Paternity means fatherhood. When a court process is initiated to establish paternity, it means determining the identity of the biological father of a child. Establishing paternity as soon as possible is important to both parents and child, since it fosters legal and emotional bonds between fathers and their children.
Paternity gives a child specific legal rights and privileges, including:
• The right to support from both parents
• Entitlement to the father's pensions, veteran's benefits and Social Security benefits
• Life insurance
• Access to medical coverage from either parent
• The emotional benefit of knowing and spending time with both parents
• Legal documentation establishing paternity
When a man establishes that he is a child's biological father, he will have the right to:
• Give the child his last name
• Add the child to his health and life insurance plans
• Ensure that his child receives benefits in the event of the father's death or disability
• Legally establish parental rights and responsibilities, including child custody and support
• Give his child the right to inherit property
In Oklahoma, fathers of children born inside of marriage and outside of marriage have different rights and obligations. Generally, when a child is born to parents who are married to each other, the husband is presumed to be the father of children born or conceived during the marriage. This presumption of paternity means that the child will automatically have certain rights, like inheritance, upon birth. However, when a child is born to parents who are unwed, the presumed father must act to protect his rights.
The Rights of Unmarried "Presumed Fathers" in Oklahoma Law
When a child is born outside of marriage, the mother has custody by default. However, the court may not deny the "presumed" father visitation and other privileges simply because paternity has yet to be determined.
A “presumed father” is a person who is recognized by law as the father of the child until paternity is confirmed or denied by a paternity test. In 2015, Oklahoma passed a law expanding the rights of "presumed fathers" when a child is born out of wedlock. The current law gives the father a right to have a temporary court order deciding custody, visitation, child support and child care issues, even before the paternity test is completed.
The old law did not give unmarried fathers any custody or visitation rights until paternity was established during a court proceeding. Now a presumed father may petition the court for a temporary order establishing paternity, custody, visitation and support obligations. Although this law does not make permanent decisions regarding custody, it does permit fathers to begin forming bonds with their child during the legal process.
Unwed Fathers: Contact an Oklahoma Family Law Attorney
When biological parents are not married to each other at the time of conception or birth of a child, paternity needs to be established. Unwed fathers who are concerned that their child's mother is delaying paternity proceedings in order to prevent him from having contact with a child should contact an Oklahoma family law attorney right away. Contact our experienced lawyers today, or call 405-542-2529 (542-CLAW) and one of our Oklahoma Family Law Attorneys will help you establish paternity. Read more about our team, or continue reading and researching our free legal information library.