Understanding paternity rights in Oklahoma

To retain custody or visitation rights of a child, a male in Oklahoma must first establish paternity. In Oklahoma, the establishment of paternity depends on whether a child was born into a marriage. Specifically, a man is automatically presumed to be a legal father of a child if he is married to the mother when the child is born. Similarly, if a child is not born into a marriage, but the man and mother were married within 300 days of the child's birth, then he is presumed to be the father.

Establishing paternity

If a man is not presumed to be a legal father of a child under the law, he must take steps invoke his parental rights. This might occur, for example, in a case where a child is born to unmarried parents. A man can also be deemed the legal father of a child if he marries the mother after childbirth and accepts child support responsibilities. In these situations, a man would need to register his parental rights with the appropriate government agencies.

Legal registration requires a man to file an acknowledgement of paternity, which must be in a record prescribed by the Department of Human Services. This registration must also be signed by the child's mother and must indicate that the child does not have a presumed or adjudicated legal father. The acknowledgment is how the court grants parental rights and responsibilities to the father.

Also, in the case where either parent contests the paternity of the child, genetic testing can be done voluntarily or through a court order. Genetic testing helps confirm whether a man is the biological father. However, it is important to know that if a man is proven to be the biological father of a child, he is not automatically entitled to child custody and visitation rights.

Once the unmarried father establishes that he is the biological father, he must actively pursue his legal custody or visitation rights. A court will award custody and visitation rights based on the best interests of the child. If a court grants such privileges, the custodial parent cannot deny visitation rights to the noncustodial parent.

Ultimately, the establishment of paternity and associated parental rights can be a complex process. Nevertheless, if a male in Oklahoma is interested in asserting or denying parental rights or obligations, there are specific ways to do so. If you are in a similar family law dispute, you may benefit from speaking with a qualified family law attorney in your area. A lawyer can inform you about the process in detail.