Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Tuesday, January 8, 2002

ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN CORNYN LAUDS LOCAL HOSPITAL FOR FAMILY FOCUS

Medical City Recognized for Service to Children and Parents

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today presented Medical City Dallas Hospital with a certificate of appreciation for its work with unmarried mothers and fathers to acknowledge paternity at the time of a child's birth.

"Acknowledging paternity is the first step to ensuring an unmarried father's involvement in his child's life," said Attorney General Cornyn. "Medical City understands that children need the love and support of both parents to be successful. I applaud the hospital for its work with unmarried parents to acknowledge paternity at the time of their child's birth."

Under Texas law, a child born to a man and woman who are not married has no legal father. Voluntary acknowledgment of paternity (AOP) is one way to establish legal fatherhood so that children are eligible for child support and benefits such as Social Security, veteran's survivor benefits and health insurance.

The Office of the Attorney General's Paternity Opportunity Program trains and certifies employees of hospitals and birthing centers to assist parents with the AOP process while the mother and child are still in the hospital. Hospital personnel inform unmarried mothers and fathers of their parental rights and responsibilities and give them the opportunity to sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity, which establishes a legal relationship between the father and his child. The father's name cannot be placed on the child's birth certificate until paternity is established voluntarily, by signing the AOP, or through a court order.

Of 633 non-marital births at Medical City Dallas Hospital between Sept. 1, 2000 and Aug. 31, 2001, 69 percent resulted in an acknowledged paternity to establish the legal relationship between a father and his child. Paternity was acknowledged on 63 percent of the 105,592 non-marital births that occurred in Texas during the federal fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2001, representing a 27 percent increase over the prior fiscal year, when 52 percent of the state's 101,479 non-marital births were acknowledged.

"It's tough growing up today. Children born to unmarried parents will have an easier time just by knowing the identity of their father," stated General Cornyn.

At today's ceremony, Britt Berrett, president and chief executive officer of Medical City Dallas Hospital, accepted the certificate of appreciation from General Cornyn. Dr. Sherri Heller, commissioner of the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, commended Medical City for its outstanding service to the children of Texas.

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