Acknowledgement of Paternity
When your child is born and you are not married to the mother, you may be surprised that you have no immediate or automatic legal parental rights. In Oklahoma, establishing paternity is necessary before you can establish parentage. Paternity means you as the biological parent. Parentage means you have the rights and responsibilities of a parent.
While married fathers are presumed to be the parent of the child, there is no such presumption for unwed fathers in Oklahoma. Of course, the mother who had the child will be known to be the biological mother, but it takes additional steps to firmly establish your identity – and your rights – as your child’s biological father.
If both you and your child’s mother agree that you are the biological father, you can voluntarily sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) at the hospital or at a later date. The acknowledgement will result in your name being added to the birth certificate. Yet, until you establish your custody rights in court, your role as a parent could be limited to being a named parent on the birth certificate.
However, if parentage is in question or the mother flat-out denies you are the father, you will need to escalate the matter to the courts for a paternity determination under Oklahoma law. Only after paternity is established could you then make a case for your role as a parent.
Paternity Suits in Tulsa Courts
When paternity is questioned or challenged, you will need to file a paternity lawsuit in the appropriate court. It is important to have the help of a dedicated paternity attorney in Oklahoma from the start of this process. Once you file, you can agree to settle the matter out-of-court if the mother is willing to acknowledge your paternity. If settlement is not an option, the judge will determine whether to establish you as the father.
Often, a judge makes the decision based on the results of genetic testing. The judge can order a genetic test, which can be done in Tulsa by swabbing the inside of yours and the child’s mouth instead of requiring a blood test. If the test results indicate you are, in fact, the likely biological father as determined by DNA testing, the judge can issue a court order establishing parentage and your parental rights.
Child Custody and Support
Whether paternity was acknowledged or established in court, the newly established parental role will lead to additional issues. For example, you now may have custody rights. If you do not ask seek formal custody order, the mother may later back out of custody agreements you made at the time of birth. Time in which you patiently tolerated a mother’s refusal to let you see your child could be used as evidence you do not care about your role as a parent.
The best approach is to retain a child custody attorney for men. A qualified Tulsa child custody lawyer can advise you how to establish your parental interests with your child and in court. If your child’s mother receives public assistance, a fathers rights attorney in Oklahoma may advise you to avoid consenting to child support stipulations offered by Oklahoma DHS. Ask a court to determine who much time you can spend with your child. Otherwise, a DHS child support agreement provides you no legal rights to custody.
In court, unless you and the mother agree, the court will need to determine how you and the child’s mother with share physical and legal custody. If you cannot agree on a custody and visitation arrangement, the court will need to decide based on what is in the best interests of the child. A Tulsa child custody attorney can explain to the court how it is in your child’s best interests to have you as a custodial parent.
In addition, the judge may order you to pay child support, especially if you will not be the primary physical custodian of the child (generally meaning you have your child for fewer than 182 days per year). You want to make sure the support determination is fair based on your income and expenses. Overall, you need a Tulsa paternity attorney who can then protect your rights in custody and child support determinations.
Contact a Father’s Child Custody Attorney in Tulsa to Discuss Your Options
There are many reasons why you may want to legally establish your paternity of your child. If you are in this situation and parentage is in question by the mother, call a Tulsa father’s rights lawyer as soon as possible to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation paternity and parentage consultation. Call my office at (918) 986-7724 or send me your inquiry using the form at the top of this page.