In Oklahoma, a child born to two married parents is presumed to be the legal and biological child of those parents. If parents have a child and they are not married, they will have to establish paternity, which provides both biological parents with legal parental rights. If no paternity is established, the parent who gave birth to the child will be the only parent with parental rights and responsibilities. A Tulsa paternity lawyer can help you determine the ideal legal steps to establish paternity.
Establishing paternity can be a wonderful way to ensure both parents have the same responsibility for their child. However, it can also be potentially complicated if parents do not agree on the biological parents of a child or if a married couple challenges the paternity of their child.
How to Establish Paternity
There are two main ways for unmarried parents to establish paternity in Oklahoma: an Acknowledgment of Paternity form or through a court order.
- Acknowledgment of Paternity
This is the most straightforward way to establish paternity. When unmarried parents have a child, they can both sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity. Both parents must consent to signing this acknowledgment. These forms can be found at the hospital to be signed after a parent gives birth. They must be signed in the presence of a witness, and the staff at a hospital will be able to help parents properly file the paperwork.
If parents do not obtain the form at the hospital, they can sign it at a later date. The form can be found online, at the State Department of Health in the Division of Vital Records, in the State Department of Human Services, in child support offices, and in county health departments.
When parents sign this form, they are both agreeing that the non-birthing parent is the biological and legal parent of the child. It also waives the right to DNA testing to establish paternity.
If the parent who gave birth is married to someone else, their spouse must sign a voluntary denial of paternity form.
- Court Order
If either parent is unsure of the child’s biological parent, they should not sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity and instead establish paternity through the court. A court-ordered paternity action is also necessary when one parent wants to declare the child’s second biological parent and the other parent does not want to.
When paternity is established through the court, the court will order genetic DNA testing. The most common way the state court does DNA testing is through a noninvasive mouth swab of the non-birthing parent and child. In some situations, blood testing is required.
If the tests prove paternity, then the judge on the case will make a court order that establishes the legal paternal rights of both parents. In this case, the judge can also determine child support obligations, child visitation, and child custody if parents are separated and it is necessary.
Why Is It Beneficial to Establish Paternity?
Both children and parents can benefit from establishing paternity. Some of these benefits include:
- Establishing paternity brings a family closer together and is shown to have beneficial mental and emotional health impacts on children.
- A child will have access to medical records and history from both sides of their family.
- Parents have equal rights and responsibilities for a child, including having the right to spend time together and the right to make important decisions for their child together.
- Both parents can provide their child with financial support.
- A child has the rights to inheritance from both their parents.
- A child gains a greater sense of identity.
- A child can access benefits from both parents, including health insurance, military benefits, or Social Security benefits.
Q: How Long Does a Father Have to Establish Paternity in Oklahoma?
A: In Oklahoma, when a child only has one legal and biological parent, the other parent can attempt to establish paternity any time prior to the child turning 18. The other biological parent is not the only individual who can request a paternity action through the court before this time. Once a child turns 18 and the other biological parent wants to establish paternity, the child must also sign a form consenting to the Acknowledgment of Paternity.
Q: What Is the New Paternity Law in Oklahoma?
A: As of 2022, both parents of a child have equal rights to custody if they are not married and have established paternity through a voluntary declaration. Before this law, the biological mother of a child would have full custody, even if both parents had signed the voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity. Parents would have had to establish paternity through the court in order to obtain the same custody.
This is no longer the case, and an Acknowledgment of Paternity carries more weight, providing both parents with the same legal rights and responsibilities for their child.
Q: How Long Does It Take to Establish Paternity in Oklahoma?
A: If parents sign a voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, establishing paternity only takes as long as it takes to file the form. In that case, establishing paternity may be done on the same day.
However, if parents establish paternity through a court action, it will take longer. Court-established paternity includes DNA testing of the potential biological parent and child. Results from this testing may take between four and six weeks. If the test confirms paternity, then this is the approximate amount of time it will take to establish paternity, although it will also rely on the court’s schedule.
Q: Does Signing a Birth Certificate Establish Paternity in Oklahoma?
A: Once parents have established paternity, they can request a birth certificate with both birth parent’s names on it. However, the existence of a parent’s name on the birth certificate does not always mean paternity was established. Both parents have equal parental rights if:
- They were married when their child was born and are the presumed parents.
- They were not married and established paternity through a voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form.
- They were not married and established paternity through the court.
If none of these apply, then a parent’s name on the birth certificate does not establish paternity.
Contact Stange Law Firm
If you want to establish paternity for your child but are unsure how to begin, an experienced attorney can help. Contact the team at Stange Law Firm today to see how we can navigate the family courts to help you provide for your child.