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TENNESSEE COMPILATION OF SELECTED LAWS ON CHILDREN, YOUTH AND FAMILIES, 2011 EDITION

TENNESSEE CODE ANNOTATED

Title 24 Evidence And Witnesses

Chapter 7 Admissibility of Evidence

24-7-113. Voluntary acknowledgment of paternity.

(a) A voluntary acknowledgment of paternity which is completed under the provisions of § 68-3-203(g), § 68-3-302, or § 68-3-305(b) or under similar provisions of another state or government shall constitute a legal finding of paternity on the individual named as the father of the child in the acknowledgment, subject to rescission as provided in subsection (c). The acknowledgment, unless rescinded pursuant to subsection (c), shall be conclusive of that father's paternity without further order of the court.

(b) (1) A voluntary acknowledgment of paternity which is completed under the provisions of § 68-3-203(g), § 68-3-302, or § 68-3-305(b), or under similar provisions of another state or government, when certified by the state registrar or other governmental entity maintaining the record of the acknowledgment, or the copy of the voluntary acknowledgment completed pursuant to § 68-3-302(d), shall be a basis for establishing a support order without requiring any further proceedings to establish paternity.

(2) An acknowledgment of paternity executed as described in subdivision (b)(1) shall be entitled to full faith and credit in any judicial or administrative proceeding in this state.

(3) No judicial or administrative proceedings are required, nor shall any such proceedings be permitted, to ratify an unchallenged acknowledgment of paternity in order to create the conclusive status of the acknowledgment of paternity.

(c) A signatory to a voluntary acknowledgment shall be permitted to rescind the voluntary acknowledgment at the earlier of:

(1) The completion and submission of a sworn statement refuting the named father on a form provided by the state registrar. This form must be filed in the office of vital records of the department of health, together with the fee required by the registrar within sixty (60) days of the date of completion of the acknowledgment; or

(2) Within the sixty-day period following completion of the acknowledgment, at any judicial or administrative proceeding during that period at which the signatory is a party and which proceeding relates to the child, by completion of the form described in subdivision (c)(1) or by the entry of an order by the administrative or judicial tribunal which directs the rescission of such acknowledgment.

The registrar may impose a fee for the filing of the rescission of voluntary acknowledgment in subdivision (c)(1) and the registrar shall send a copy of the rescinded acknowledgment to the other signatory of the original acknowledgment. If an individual seeking to rescind an acknowledgment completes an affidavit of indigency which accompanies the rescission form, the fee shall be waived. Any fee for filing a rescission of a voluntary acknowledgment based upon fraud shall be assessed by the court against the person found to be the perpetrator of the fraud.

(d) If, at any time during the hearing described in subdivision (c)(2), the court, the referee, or the hearing officer has reasonable cause to believe that a signatory of the acknowledgment is or was unable to understand the effects of executing such acknowledgment, the court, the referee or hearing officer shall explain orally to the individual the effects of the execution of the acknowledgment, and the right to rescind the voluntary acknowledgment pursuant to subsection (c), and the right to parentage tests to determine paternity pursuant to the provisions of § 24-7-112 in any proceeding relative to the issue of paternity of the child.

(e) (1) If the voluntary acknowledgment has not been rescinded pursuant to subsection (c), the acknowledgment may only be challenged on the basis of fraud, whether extrinsic or intrinsic, duress, or material mistake of fact.

(2) The challenger must institute the proceeding upon notice to the other signatory and other necessary parties including the Title IV-D agency within five (5) years of the execution of the acknowledgment, and if the court finds based upon the evidence presented at the hearing that there is substantial likelihood that fraud, duress, or a material mistake of fact existed in the execution of the acknowledgment of paternity, then, and only then, the court shall order parentage tests. Such action shall not be barred by the five-year statute of limitations where fraud in the procurement of the acknowledgment by the mother of the child is alleged and where the requested relief will not affect the interests of the child, the state, or any Title IV-D agency. Nothing herein shall preclude the challenger from presenting any other form of evidence as a substitute for the parentage tests if it is not possible to conduct such tests.

(3) The test results certified under oath by an authorized representative of an accredited laboratory shall be filed with the court and shall be admissible on the issue of paternity pursuant to § 24-7-112(b). If the acknowledged father is found to be excluded by the tests, an action seeking support shall be dismissed or the acknowledgment of paternity shall be rescinded, as appropriate. If the test results show a statistical probability of ninety-five percent (95%) or greater, a rebuttable presumption of paternity shall be established and the issue of paternity shall be tried before the court without a jury. If the test results show a probability of paternity of ninety-nine percent (99%) or greater, the acknowledgment of paternity will become conclusive and no further action shall be necessary to establish paternity unless a motion asserting the defenses of § 24-7-112(b)(2)(C) is successfully brought.

(4) The burden of proof in any such proceeding shall be upon the challenger.

(5) During the pendency of the hearing under this subsection and any appeal from such hearing, the legal responsibilities of the signatory, including any child support obligations, may not be suspended, except for good cause shown.

(f) The state of Tennessee, its officers, employees, agents or contractors, or any Title IV-D child support enforcement agency shall not be liable in any case to compensate any person for repayment of child support paid or for any other costs as a result of the rescission of any voluntary acknowledgment or the rescission of any orders of legitimation, paternity, or support entered under this section.

(g) (1) The rescission of an acknowledgment of paternity or entry of any order rescinding any acknowledgment of paternity pursuant to subsection (c) shall not preclude the initiation of a paternity action against the signatory who is the alleged putative father, or by a putative father against a mother to establish his paternity, nor shall it preclude the initiation of a paternity action against another putative father.

(2) If, however, the voluntary acknowledgment is rescinded by order of the court based upon tests conducted pursuant to subsection (e) which excluded a person as parent, no further action may be initiated against such excluded person.

(h) (1) The original of the form rescinding the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or a certified copy of any order rescinding a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or a prior order of legitimation or paternity shall be sent by the person rescinding it or, as the case may be, by the clerk to the state registrar at the office of vital records of the department of health.

(2) Upon receipt of the form rescinding the acknowledgment which was executed and filed with the registrar within the sixty-day period or upon receipt of the order which shows on its face that the voluntary acknowledgment has been rescinded at the hearing which is held no later than the sixtieth day following the completion of the voluntary acknowledgment, or upon receipt of a certified court order with a finding shown clearly in the court order that the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity was rescinded due to fraud, either intrinsic or extrinsic, duress or material mistake of fact, the registrar shall make the appropriate amendments to the birth certificate of the child who was the subject of the order.

Acts 1994, ch. 988, § 1; 1997, ch. 551, § 35; 1998, ch. 1098, §§ 1, 2; T.C.A., § 24-7-118.

Compiler's Notes. Former § 24-7-113, concerning inadmissibility of testimony before committee of the general assembly, was transferred to § 24-7-114 in 2000.

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