In Oklahoma, all parents have a moral, legal and ethical duty to support their children. While the ethical and moral duty may continue on into adulthood, depending on the circumstances, the legal duty continues until a child reaches the age of majority, usually the age of 18. In Oklahoma, this could result in paternity action.
In a perfect world, there would be no issues regarding child support, as each parent would willingly do what needed to be done for their children. But life can be difficult, and sometimes we have to find additional help to enable a parent to fulfill their duty to a child.
The Duty to Support Begins With Determining Paternity
There is no legal duty to support a child that is not yours absent special circumstances which impose that duty. Thus, establishing paternity is a first step toward getting child support for your child.
In some cases, paternity is clear. Oklahoma law has a parentage presumption that adheres to married parents. So if you and your husband have a child, your husband is presumed to be the father in a paternity action.
Unmarried couples do not have the benefit of such a presumption in a paternity action. You must establish that a man is the child’s father in order to obtain support and confer other legal rights and obligations upon the father.
Two Ways to Establish Paternity in Oklahoma
There are two basic ways to establish paternity in Oklahoma: an acknowledgement of paternity, and a paternity lawsuit.
The simplest way in a paternity action: Acknowledgement of paternity.
An acknowledgement of paternity is the easiest way to establish your child’s parentage. The acknowledgement is a document that both parents sign. It names and acknowledges the biological father of the child. The other names the man as the father, and the father signs, acknowledging his relationship to the child.
This document is one legal way to establish who the father is. But what happens when a father does not want to acknowledge that he is the father? Or sometimes, time passes and the couple breaks up without ever having signed an acknowledgement?
In that case, your only other recourse is to file a paternity action.
Filing a Legal Paternity Action
A paternity action is a lawsuit filed in district court. Like all lawsuits, a petition or complaint must be drafted and filed, and the action served upon the putative father in order to determine the child’s biological parentage.
As part of this action, the court will order that the parents and child or children all submit to DNA testing. The DNA samples are usually done by swabbing the inside of the cheek to obtain epithelial cells. Sometimes, a court will order that blood samples be used instead. DNA testing is the only conclusive methodology used in paternity cases.
Once paternity is established, the court can then hear evidence related to issues of custody and support of the child. These issues will be resolved, and initial custody, support and visitation orders will be made.
Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services can get you help with establishing child support, but cannot help establish custody or visitation rights. Those will need to be established separately if you use DHS to help with support. And for that, you will want to get the help of an experienced Muskogee divorce attorney. Call us today to get the help you need.
Confidential Consultation: Muskogee Divorce Attorney
If you’re considering all of your options at the moment and need to know how best to handle the issues you will face, call an experienced Muskogee divorce attorney today at (918) 913-0725, or toll-free at 1 (888) 447-7262 (Wirth Law).
If you prefer, you can use the box in the upper right-hand corner of this page to send a question or message.