Father with a toddler girl in bedroom at home, having fun.

Why Does Paternity Matter?

During legal proceedings for divorce, separation, or child custody, paternity is an important element. So, why is paternity so important? Keep reading to learn more.

What is Paternity?

Oklahoma defines paternity as legal fatherhood. Determining paternity is a process used to legally establish who is the father of a child particularly when they may have been born outside of a marriage or have been adopted. Depending on the circumstances, a person may need to forfeit their paternal rights for the child to be in the custody of their other parent or adopted by another party. Additionally, the status of paternity may affect the outcome of a divorce settlement.

The Importance of Paternity in OK

In Oklahoma, paternity is a crucial part of the child’s identity as it determines whether the child will have the father’s last name and access to the family’s medical records. Additionally, paternity may impact access to social security survivor benefits, inheritance, or establish Native American tribal membership.

There are four ways to be a father in OK:

  1. Be married to the child’s mother
  2. Acknowledge paternal rights by using an Acknowledgement of Paternity form
  3. Be dedicated to fatherhood through the court process including submitting to DNA testing
  4. Adopting the child

Any of the above steps can establish paternity even if the prospective father is not biologically related to the child.

Parental Responsibilities

When a person has legal paternity, they are responsible for their share of financial and emotional support. If the individual is unwilling or unable to fulfill their parental responsibilities, then the other parent may take steps to remove the responsibility from them in court. Additionally, if the other parent chooses to put their child up for adoption, they can do so but only after the paternal parent gives their consent.

Paternity and Divorce

During divorce, parental rights are a key determining factor for support and custody. For example, if the person functioning in a paternal role is not legally in possession of paternal rights, they may not have the right to visitation, but they also may not be obligated to pay child or spousal support.

Additionally, if a parent has paternal rights but does not claim them in court and fails to appear before the judge, they could lose their rights to the child but retain the obligation to provide financially. Ultimately, the outcome of a divorce settlement depends on the family and their unique circumstances. Plus, the court will make decisions based on the child’s best interests which could mean that paternity be more significant depending on the case.

Your Legal Counselors

If you are considering a divorce or adoption, paternity is an important factor that could jeopardize your case. Nichols Dixon PLLC can assist you with your case and help you make an informed decision about your family’s future. Our experienced legal team can also advocate for you in court at ever step of the process.

Contact our firm today for more information.