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How to Establish or Contest Paternity in Oklahoma

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Establishing paternity is a pivotal process for unmarried fathers in Oklahoma who seek to assert their legal rights and responsibilities. Maneuvering through the intricate legal procedures involved can be overwhelming, highlighting the significance of seeking guidance from experienced OKC paternity lawyers.

By gaining insight into the various methods of establishing paternity in Oklahoma and collaborating closely with our seasoned legal team at Yarborough Law Group, unmarried fathers can take proactive steps to establish a legal bond with their children, laying the groundwork for a positive and secure future together.

What Is Paternity?

Paternity is the legal recognition of the biological father of a child, granting the father certain rights and responsibilities. Married fathers do not have to establish paternity because the court presumes a woman's husband is the father of her child.

When a child is born to unmarried parents, paternity must be established through legal means to ensure the child receives financial support, healthcare benefits, and inheritance rights from their father.

Biological fatherhood and legal paternity are not always the same, and paternity can be established voluntarily or through court determination, even if the man is not the biological father.

Establishing Paternity in Oklahoma: Methods and Procedures

In Oklahoma, there are two primary ways to establish paternity:

Establishing Paternity in Oklahoma: Methods and Procedures

Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity

This process is straightforward and avoids the need for legal intervention. The first option is signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) form.

The AOP can be signed at the hospital after the child's birth or later at a child support services office. By signing this form, the father accepts legal responsibility for the child, including potential child support payments. However, signing the AOP waives the right to future genetic testing, so both parties should be certain before signing.

The second option involves genetic testing. Taking a paternity test involves a simple cheek swab, and the results can confirm paternity without legal action. This option is recommended if there is any doubt about the child's father.

Paternity Determination Through Legal Action

If the parents cannot agree on paternity voluntarily, either party can seek child support by initiating a paternity lawsuit. Once paternity is established through the court, the father may be required to provide child support payments and have visitation rights.

Either one of the child’s parents or the Oklahoma Child Support Services (OCSS) can file a paternity lawsuit. The court may order a DNA test if it hasn't already been performed. If genetic testing confirms paternity, the judge will issue a final paternity order and can also determine financial obligations, visitation, and child custody arrangements.

Why Should Either Parent Establish Paternity?

Under Oklahoma law, establishing legal paternity is crucial for both parents and the child. For the child, having a record of their father’s identity allows them to enjoy the following advantages:

  • Legal documentation of both biological parents.
  • Access to family medical history and records from both sides.
  • Right to financial support from both parents.
  • Eligibility for benefits like Social Security, health insurance, and inheritance.
  • Emotional benefits of knowing and having a relationship with both parents.

Establishing paternity allows a father’s rights to be exercised. These and other benefits include:

  • Legal recognition as the child's parent.
  • Right to seek child custody and visitation.
  • Ability to make important decisions regarding the child's upbringing.
  • Opportunity to pass on last name and inheritance.
  • Emotional rewards of an active role in the child's life.

The child’s mother is also afforded several benefits by establishing paternity. She may receive:

  • Financial support and shared parental responsibilities.
  • Access to important information about the child's heritage.
  • Legal establishment of the father's rights and obligations.

Establishing paternity is beneficial even if the parents are not together, as it ensures the child's rights and both parents' involvement. It also provides a foundation for custody, visitation, and child support arrangements, should the need arise.

How Long Does a Father Have to Establish Paternity in Oklahoma?

In Oklahoma, fathers have the opportunity to establish paternity from the birth of the child until the child reaches the age of 18. Should a father desire to have his name added to his child's birth certificate after the child has turned 18, the adult child must complete the Adult Child's Consent to Acknowledgement along with the father's Acknowledgment of Paternity form.

This extended timeframe allows fathers to legally establish paternity until the child reaches adulthood. However, if this action is pursued after the child has become an adult, the consent of the adult child is also necessary.

How Long Can a Father Contest Paternity in Oklahoma?

In Oklahoma, fathers typically have a two-year window from the child's birth to contest paternity and disclaim legal fatherhood. However, in instances where fraud is substantiated, a father retains the right to contest paternity at any point before the child reaches 18 years of age. Establishing fraud can be a formidable task, and challenging paternity beyond the child's second birthday is infrequent. Nevertheless, in cases of paternity fraud, fathers maintain the right to seek recourse up until the child attains adulthood at age 18.

Consequences of Disavowing Paternity

Denying paternity can terminate a man’s financial obligations toward a child who is not biologically his, potentially providing relief in cases of adultery or paternity fraud.

However, it's crucial to consider the emotional impact on the child, especially if the man has been actively involved in their upbringing. Denying paternity may lead to emotional upheaval and abandonment feelings for the child, despite being legally justified.

This decision should be carefully weighed, considering the child's best interests, existing emotional bonds, and potential long-term repercussions for all parties.

Seeking Professional Assistance with Paternity Issues in Oklahoma

Navigating paternity matters in Oklahoma can have significant legal and emotional implications. At Yarborough Law Group, our experienced family law attorneys provide guidance on paternity cases. Schedule a consultation to discuss your situation and explore the best path forward.

Cole Yarborough

Cole Yarborough, a top graduate from Oklahoma City University School of Law, brings a unique blend of experience to Yarborough Law Group. His background as a private investigator, process server, and legal intern, combined with a family legacy in law and law enforcement, equips him with a comprehensive understanding of both criminal and civil law, making him a formidable advocate in various legal matters.

Secure Your Child's Future Today!

Contact Yarborough Law Group now for compassionate assistance in establishing paternity.

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