ASAP is Mississippi’s voluntary paternity establishment program. ASAP makes it possible for parents to establish paternity in hospitals and other birthing facilities, at the State Department of Health, County Health Departments, and the Division of Field Operations.
This procedure carries the same legal effect as if the father and the mother were married at the time between conception and birth. The program allows the father’s name to be added to the birth certificate.
Paternity means fatherhood. Paternity is in question when a child is born of unmarried parents. If a child’s parents are not married, paternity can be established through voluntary acknowledgment or through court proceedings.
It is important to establish paternity for a myriad of reasons, such as identity, medical history, death, disability and insurance benefits, and support.
It is important for a child to know who he/she is and to feel the sense of belonging that knowing both parents brings.
A child also needs to know if he/she may have inherited any diseases or birth defects. Also, by knowing both parents, this could ensure against marriage between close relatives.
A child should have the right to possible benefits from both parents such as social security, medical and life insurance, as well as veteran’s benefits.
Also, a child has the right to food clothing and a home, which can be better provided when both parents are involved. Support that is provided by one parent only to a child is often not adequate to meet his/her needs.
Legal paternity can be established while the mother is still in the hospital when both parents sign an acknowledgment of paternity and return it to the hospital staff. There is no fee involved, when the acknowledgment of paternity is filed along with the birth certificate. (To establish paternity upon leaving the hospital, please contact the Division of Field Operations at the Mississippi Department of Human Services.)
If establishment of paternity is involuntary, a petition to establish paternity must be filed with the appropriate court with jurisdiction over the matter.
Establishing paternity is the first step needed in order to ask for visitation privileges. The father will need to seek legal counsel for advice on visitation and, or custody.
A father’s name will be added to the birth certificate, when he is legally established as the child’s father after completing the acknowledgment form.
If the alleged father refuses to sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity form, the mother can request assistance from the Division of Field Operations at Mississippi Department of Human Services in establishing paternity, and obtaining child support through the court system. There is a $25 fee for this service UNLESS the mother is receiving any state supported benefit such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, (TANF) and, or Medicaid, in which case there is no charge for this service.
Child Support, SNAP/TANF and Aging Services Call Center