2006 Alabama Code - Section 26-17-22 — Hospital paternity acknowledgement program.

(a) The natural mother and father of a child born to a woman who was unmarried at the time of birth and had not been married or attempted to be married within 300 days prior to the birth may, at any time and place prior to the child's 19th birthday, state and acknowledge that they are the natural parents of the child in an affidavit of paternity signed by both parties before a notary public. Before a mother and a putative father sign an acknowledgment of paternity, the mother and the putative father shall be given notice, orally and in writing, of the alternatives to, the legal consequences of, and, if one parent is a minor, any rights afforded due to minority status, and responsibilities that arise from signing the acknowledgment. The affidavit shall be on a form prescribed by rule of court and shall include the Social Security number and current address of each parent, a listing of the rights and responsibilities of acknowledging paternity, including the duty to financially support the child, and instruction for filing the affidavit with the Office of Vital Statistics.

(b) The affidavit of paternity shall be a legally sufficient basis for establishing an obligation for child support and for the expenses of the mother's pregnancy and confinement. The affidavit may be admitted as evidence of paternity in any action to establish a support order or an adjudication of paternity.

(c) Hospitals that have a licensed obstetric care unit or are licensed to provide obstetric services or licensed birthing centers associated with a hospital shall provide to the mother and alleged father, if he is present in the hospital, during the period immediately preceding or following the birth of a child to an unmarried woman in the hospital, all of the following: (1) Written materials about paternity establishment. (2) Form affidavits of paternity for the purposes of subsection (a) above. (3) A written description of the rights and responsibilities of acknowledging paternity. (4) An opportunity, prior to discharge from the hospital, to speak with a trained person made available through the Department of Human Resources, either by telephone or in person, who can clarify information and answer questions about paternity establishment. The Department of Human Resources shall make materials available without cost to the hospitals. If the mother and father complete the affidavit in the hospital, the hospital shall send the affidavit of paternity to the Office of Vital Statistics with required birth certificate information within five days of the birth of the child. Hospitals may be reimbursed by the Department of Human Resources up to the amount allowable by federal regulations for each completed affidavit. A hospital shall be immune from civil or criminal liability for actions taken pursuant to the requirements of this section.

(d) The Office of Vital Statistics shall offer the mother and the alleged father paternity acknowledgment services as specified in this section.

(e) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, an affidavit of paternity completed in accordance with this section shall be accepted by the Office of Vital Statistics for purposes of listing the father's name on the child's birth certificate.

(f) If a birth certificate has been filed in the Office of Vital Statistics, listing a father of the child, no new birth certificate can be established by the Office of Vital Statistics based on an affidavit of paternity received subsequently by that office unless a determination of paternity has been made by a court of competent jurisdiction or following adoption.

(g) The affidavit of paternity shall be considered a confidential record and access shall be available in the same manner as birth records. The affidavit of paternity shall not be subject to the provisions of Section 22-9A-12(c) and shall be released by the Office of Vital Statistics to the Department of Human Resources upon request by the department and payment of any fee required by the Office of Vital Statistics for the purpose of child support enforcement or any other lawful purpose without the necessity of a court order.

(h) A signed voluntary acknowledgment of paternity completed in accordance with this section shall be considered a legal finding of paternity subject to the right of any signatory to rescind the acknowledgment within the earlier of 60 days or the date of an administrative or judicial proceeding relating to the child including a proceeding to establish a support order in which the signatory is a party.

(i) After the 60-day period, a signed voluntary acknowledgment of paternity may be challenged in court only on the basis of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact with the burden of proof upon the challenger, and the legal responsibilities, including child support obligations, of any signatory arising from the acknowledgment may not be suspended during the challenge except for good cause shown.

(j) An acknowledgment of paternity executed in another state under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act shall be entitled to full faith and credit in this state.

(Acts 1994, No. 94-705, p. 1362, §2; Acts 1997, No. 97-447, p. 772, §11.)

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