AOP Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do I need to be certified? How often? By whom?
A: Yes. You must be certified annually by one of the Paternity Program staff.
Q: Regarding the AOP process, what four things must a certified entity do?
A: Give the parents an opportunity to sign the AOP. Give the parents oral and written information on the rights and responsibilities. Give the parents an explanation of these rights and responsibilities. Give the parents information on the availability of child support services.
Q: What does not print on TER-generated AOPs?
A: The rights and responsibilities do not print. You must make a copy of the original with the rights and responsibilities on it.
Q: Who may sign an AOP?
A: Mothers, biological fathers and presumed fathers (if applicable) may sign an AOP.
Q: What is the only document that should be faxed to the Vital Statistics Unit (VSU) server?
A: The AOP is the only document that should be faxed to the VSU.
Q: Why is it important to do the Parent Survey?
A: The Parent Survey is important because it provides proof that the hospital is complying with the law.
Q: How long should I retain an AOP and Parent Survey?
A: AOPs and Parent Surveys should be retained for 20 years.
Q: When does a man who signs an AOP become the legal father?
A: The man becomes the legal father when all parts of the AOP have been faxed and received by VSU.
Q: What must be correct on the fax machine used to send AOPs?
A: The date and time must be correct.
Q: Can a Child Support Division office assist a party in rescinding an AOP?
A: Yes, OAG child support offices are certified entities that are able to educate parents on the rescission process and provide the Rescission of AOP form (VS-158) if applicable.
Q: Can a Child Support Division office assist a party in challenging an AOP?
A: No. Parties may retain a private attorney to assist in challenging the AOP.
Q: How old must parents be to sign an AOP?
A: There is no age requirement.
Q: Should parents who want DNA testing sign an AOP?
A: No. Parents should not sign an AOP under these circumstances.
Q: What if a parent asks about a DNA test?
A: If either parent asks about or mentions DNA or paternity testing, make sure the parents understand they can get testing through a private lab or by purchasing over-the-counter tests available through many pharmacies – but the testing should be done BEFORE completing an AOP. If a parent opens a child support case with the OAG and the OAG determines that a DNA test is necessary, generally one will be provided at no cost. A common complaint from parents is that they did not understand the need to request a paternity test prior to signing an AOP.
Q: Should entities hand out blank AOPs?
A: NO! An entity should never hand out a blank AOP.
Q: Do parents have to show identification? What are some examples of acceptable IDs?
A: Yes, parents must show some type of ID. Refer to your training module for a list of acceptable IDs.
Q: Is parental consent necessary for minors to sign AOPs?
Q: Does the local registrar fax AOPs to the VSU?
A: Yes. Please refer to your AOP training manual.
Q: What does an AOP do for the child?
A: An AOP establishes a legal relationship between the father and the child. It also allows the child to receive the father's Social Security benefits, inheritance and military benefits; and should give the father access to the child's medical and school records.
Q: Should I leave an AOP unattended?
A: NO! Never leave an AOP unattended.
Q: Are local registrars required to help parents with AOPs and Rescissions?
A: No. Certified entities are not required to do so, but helping parents with AOPs and rescissions is an example of excellent customer service.
Q: When may an AOP be completed?
A: An AOP may be completed before the child is born, at the hospital or any time after the birth of the child.
Q: Who may get copies of an AOP?
A: Any party who signed the AOP may get a copy.
Q: If I am a midwife and have two entity codes. Which one should I use?
A: If you are attending the birth alone, use your personal entity code. If the birth occurs at a birthing center or hospital, use the entity code of that facility.
Q: Does having an AOP filed mean that a case is opened with the Attorney General's office?
A: No. The parties must apply for services before a child support case is opened.
Q: What is a presumed father?
A: A presumed father is a man to whom the mother is currently married, a man to whom the mother was married and the ending of the marriage occurred within 300 days prior to the child's birth or a man who continuously lived with the child and represented himself as the child's father the first two years of the child's life.
Q: What questions should I ask the mother to determine if there is a presumed father?
A: These are the questions you should ask: Are you married to the biological father? Are you married to someone other than the biological father? Are you divorced? Have you been divorced within 300 days of the birth of that child? Is there a court order that excludes the man you were married to as the father of the child?
Q: How is the AOP completed when there is a presumed father?
A: The presumed father, biological father and mother must sign their respective portions of the Acknowledgement (and Denial) of Paternity. Please refer to the “Partials” section of your AOP training manual for procedures.
Q: Where do I find laws pertaining to the AOP?
Q: If there is a presumed father and the parents have results of a DNA test identifying another man as the biological father, does the presumed father still need to sign the denial of paternity?
A: Yes, the presumed father must sign the denial of paternity. A paternity test is only proof that the other man is the biological father.
Q: If any party cannot understand basic information about the AOP, should it be completed?
A: No, the AOP should not be completed.
Q: Who should I contact about a TER problem or birth certificate question?
A: Contact the VSU in Austin.
Q: What if the certified person only speaks English and the parents speak another language? How am I to explain the AOP to them?
A: Have the parents use the language line or find another hospital staff person to translate. The translator does not have to be AOP-certified, but the certified person needs to be present. It is preferable that the translator not be a family member. Document on the Parent Survey the name of the person who translated.
Q: May parents who do not read or write sign an AOP?
A: Yes. Parents who do not read or write may sign an AOP if it is believed they understand what has been explained to them. An "X" is acceptable for their signature.
Q: Should parents who say they have a common law marriage sign an AOP?
A: Yes, it would be in the child's best interest since not all states recognize common law marriages. Please refer to your AOP training manual for procedures.
Q: Under what circumstances can the mother's bracelet be used as her identification?
A: The mother’s bracelet can be used as identification at the time of her child’s birth when she is a current patient at the hospital that is administering the AOP. It is assumed that the hospital checked her identification upon admittance.