acknowledged father

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The acknowledged father is the admitted biological father of a child born to an unmarried couple. It refers to the person who has admitted to being the father of the child. The admission may be made by signing a voluntary written acknowledgment of paternity, or by an agreement between them and the child's mother. 

A valid acknowledgment of paternity establishes the father-child relationship and confers on the acknowledged father all rights and obligations of a parent, including the duty to raise the child. After the acknowledgement of paternity, the acknowledged father may rescind the acknowledgement within a limited period, and also challenge the acknowledgement after the expiration of period for rescission on the basis of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact.

The definitions and conditions of an acknowledged father have been provided in different state statutes. For example in Texas, under Section 3.1.1 Tex. Fam. Code § 101.0010, acknowledged father means a man who has established a father-child relationship. Further, Section 3.1.2 Tex. Fam. Code § 160.301 provides that the mother of a child and a man claiming to be the biological father of the child may sign an acknowledgment of paternity with the intent to establish the paternity.

Similarly, in Alabama under Section 3.2.1 of Code of Ala. § 26-17-301 provides that the mother of a child and the person claiming to be the genetic father of the child may sign an acknowledgment of paternity with intent to establish paternity.

In Rogers v. Wcisel, 312 Mich. App. 79, it was held that “an ‘acknowledged father’ is a man who has affirmatively held himself out to be the child's father by executing an acknowledgment of parentage under the acknowledgment of parentage act”. It was further held that “an ‘acknowledging father’ is not required to attest that he is the biological father. The definition of an ‘acknowledged father’ does not include any reference to a man being the biological father of a child”.

[Last updated in May of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]