Oklahoma Paternity Attorneys
At Brown & Gould, PLLC, we understand that paternity issues arise in all sorts of situations. Sometimes these situations are dramatic and contentious. However, in many circumstances, paternity simply needs to be established because a mother is unmarried and there is no legal presumption as to who a child’s father is. In other cases, paternity of a child carried and birthed through surrogacy is at issue and needs to be determined. No matter your situation, we understand the law surrounding parentage in Oklahoma and we can guide you through the process of determining a child’s biological and legal parents. Instead of trying to learn what to do one step at a time, we can explain what is necessary and handle both the administrative and legal elements of the situation for you.
If you or a loved one needs legal help due to a paternity issue, call the experienced attorneys of Brown & Gould, PLLC today at 405-235-4500 or contact us online.
Understanding Oklahoma’s Presumption of Paternity
Like most states, Oklahoma gives married couples certain privileges. One of these privileges is the presumption that the father of a child is the husband of the woman who gives birth to that child. For married individuals, there is no need to prove who the father of a baby is. The parents can simply sign the Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) form and have both parents listed on the birth certificate.
However, if the husband suspects that he is not the father of his wife’s child, he does not have to sign the AOP. Instead, he can voluntarily submit to a genetic test or move the court to require a genetic test before he is added to the birth certificate.
The Acknowledgment of Paternity Form
When an unmarried couple has a child, there is no legal presumption as to who the father of that child is. It does not matter if the mother and father live together or have been in a relationship for years. To establish the child’s legal parentage, the father must voluntarily sign the AOP form or go through genetic testing.
The AOP form is always voluntary, whether the parents are married or not. It requires both parents to sign the form in front of a witness. The mother and father cannot be each other’s witness. Instead, a nurse or administrator usually watches the parents sign. Most hospitals have the form on hand so that it can be completed before the parents take the baby home. However, the AOP can be filled out later and signed at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, a county health department location, or the Oklahoma Division of Vital Records.
Once a father signs an AOP, he now has both legal rights and obligations. A father may have to pay child support if he and the mother are unmarried and do not live together. The child may also go on his health insurance. In addition to financially supporting his son or daughter, the father has the right to seek custody or visitation.
A mother may be unsure of the father of her baby, or while she may be confident of her child’s parentage, the alleged father might not be. In these situations, there will not be a voluntary AOP signed at the hospital. Instead, the alleged father can voluntarily undergo a genetic test to determine if he is a parent or the mother may have to open a child support case or take him to court to force a paternity test.
If both parents agree that a DNA test will be done prior to or after the child is born, then this can be set up in advance with the hospital or a private facility that offers genetic testing. If this process is voluntary, the parents can work out who will pay for this test themselves. Once the results are back, a father can either sign an AOP or the parents can seek to have the baby’s birth certificate changed to also have the father’s name.
However, if the parents do not agree on parentage or to undergo a genetic test, the mother or alleged father may have to begin a court proceeding to require a DNA test and ensure the biological father is included on the birth certificate. If you want to establish paternity for a child, you can go to your local child support office for Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services and open a child support case for free. Through this case, the state will require a DNA test and it can be conducted at no cost. However, if the genetic test states the alleged father is the child’s biological father, he will be required to pay the state back for the test.
Contact Brown & Gould for Help
When your child’s paternity is not readily established, it is important to have an experienced Oklahoma paternity attorney by your side. A lawyer well-versed in Oklahoma’s parentage law can explain your rights as a mother or alleged father and help you ensure the right names are placed on the birth certificate. Whether you and the other parent are on good or bad terms, it is best to have an attorney to protect your rights and help you through the administrative and legal process.
Call the offices of Brown & Gould, PLLC today at 405-235-4500 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.