Who may sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage (VAP)?
- Person who gave birth to the child (except for a surrogate)
- Intended parent
- Presumed parent
- Alleged genetic parent
What does a VAP need to be valid?
- It is signed/dated by the parents
- The parents are eligible to sign (see above)
- It’s signed/dated by a witness (not either parent) who is at least 18 AND
- It is filed with the Vermont Office of Vital Records
Can a VAP be rejected?
Yes. It may be rejected if someone else (other than the person who gave birth):
- Has a valid VAP on file with Vital Records.
- Was determined by the court to be the child’s parent. OR
- Is a presumed parent — unless they file a Denial of Parentage (DOP) at the same time you file your VAP.
Is a VAP legally binding?
Yes it is. A signed VAP is equal to a court determination of parentage and a challenge is only allowed in limited circumstances.
- Once you file an VAP and it’s accepted, you are legally responsible for financially supporting the child.
- You have the right to talk to a lawyer before you sign.
What if I deny that I am the parent?
To be valid, it must be signed by you and a witness who is at least 18.
Your DOP will only be accepted if:
- You have not been determined by a court to be the child’s parent.
- You don’t have a valid VAP on file. AND
- Another person has filed a VAP.
Can a presumption of parenthood be overcome?
Yes. If a child has a presumed parent who is not a genetic parent, that presumption can be overcome.
- If the parties agree:
- If the parties don't agree:
- A competing claim can only be resolved by court order.
Can a genetic parent sign an VAP if the birth mother is married/joined by civil union to someone else at the time of signing?
Yes; however, if the birth mother's spouse is a presumed parent:
- The spouse must file a Denial of Parentage (DOP) AND
- At the same time, the birth mother and genetic parent must file an Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage (VAP)
What happens if I was married or in a civil union within 300 days of my child's birth?
The name of your former spouse will be added to your child's birth certificate. This will happen, even if they are not the genetic parent, unless:
- Your former spouse files a Denial of Parentage (DOP) AND
- At the same time, you and the genetic parent files an Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage (VAP)
Can a VAP be signed before the child is born?
Yes. However, it will not take effect until both:
- The child is born. AND
- The VAP is filed with Vital Records.
Is there a time limit when a VAP must be signed?
No. VAPs may be signed before a child is born or years later.
Can a minor sign an VAP or DOP?
Can I take back my VAP/DOP?
Yes. You can rescind it by:
- Filing a Rescission/Removal of Acknowledgment/Denial of Parentage with Vital Records within 60 days of the effective date of the acknowledgment or denial. OR
- Starting a court proceeding within 60 days after the:
- Effective date of your VAP/DOP OR
- Date of the first court hearing in a proceeding you're involved with related to the child
If you take back an VAP, it invalidates any Denial of Parentage (DOP) filed by a presumed parent.
If you take back a DOP, it invalidates any Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage (VAP) filed by an alleged genetic parent.
Who else may establish a claim of parentage?
A claim of "defacto parentage" may be filed by someone who has:
- Lived with the child for a significant period of time (not necessarily from birth)
- Consistently acted as the parent without expecting financial compensation in return
- Held out the child as their own AND
- Developed a parent-child relationship with the child
A claim of de facto parentage may only be:
- Determined by the court
- Made by the person seeking to be adjudicated as a child's de facto parent
Read Chapter 5 of the Vermont Parentage Act to learn more.