Experienced Paternity Attorneys in Jonesboro, Arkansas Fighting For Your Rights
Paternity can mean different things for different dads. For some, it can mean that they are beginning their wonderful fatherhood journey, and they are excited for this new chapter in their life. For others, it can mean needing to establish that they are the biological father of a child, so they can begin to share in their journey and help to raise them.
If you are experiencing issues in regards to paternity, you have options. Relying on a team of experienced and trusted attorneys that are familiar with these cases as well as the laws surrounding them in Arkansas can be invaluable to you. Contact our offices today at (870) 330-7324 to learn more about how we have helped others just like you and how we can best help you too.
How Do I Establish Paternity?
For married parents of a child, there is a legal relationship to the child for both parents automatically, and the father’s name will appear on the birth certificate.
For unmarried parents, there are two ways to establish paternity in Arkansas. The first is through a voluntary acknowledgment. If you and the child’s mother both agree that you are the father, you can both sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, AOP, and have it notarized. If there has been an AOP completed at the time of the birth, the biological father’s name will be on the birth certificate. If there is not one, but later the mother wants to add the father’s name to the birth certificate, it can be amended once there is an AOP completed to reflect the father’s name.
If the mother and father don’t agree on paternity, a paternity action can be brought, which gets the courts involved to legally establish paternity. This can be filed by either the child’s mother, the man who believes he is the father, a parent of the person believed to be the father if he is deceased and the Arkansas state Office of Child Support Enforcement.
When a paternity action is brought, courts will order genetic testing to be done on the mother, the child, and the potential father to establish biological ties. These results must show that there is at least a 95 percent chance that the father in question is the biological father in order to establish paternity.
Paternity Has Been Established. Now What?
When a child is born out of wedlock, even in the event that paternity has been established, the mother retains legal custody of the child. The courts can grant visitation, custody, or order child support, but these are not automatically granted or ordered. They must be initiated by the parents.
If the biological father wants to be granted visitation rights or custody, he must prove that he is a fit father, that he is able to provide for the child in question, that he has already financially supported the child, and that it is in the child’s best interest for him to have either visitation or custody of the child. Hiring an experienced attorney that knows the laws in Arkansas surrounding paternity issues can set you up for the outcome you are hoping for and potentially give you time with your biological child as they grow up, as well as the right to weigh in on important decisions in his/her life.
How Does Establishing Paternity Affect Me Financially?
If a mother wants to initiate a paternity action and it is established, this can mean that she can then request child support be ordered. The courts would review the case and determine what, if any, child support will be ordered, and the father is legally responsible for paying that amount. If the father is unable or unwilling to pay the ordered child support, fines and other penalties could be incurred, including jail time.
Establishing paternity can also mean that the child may now be the beneficiary of an inheritance from the father or eligible for benefits related to Social Security that the father may be receiving, when applicable.
If the Office of Child Support has initiated the paternity case, they may ask the father to reimburse them for benefits paid out on the child’s behalf or costs for the genetic testing to prove paternity.
If a mother initiates a case and the courts determine that the father in question is not the biological father, it has the option to charge the mother for the attorney’s costs for the other party, as well as the costs of the genetic tests, and other fees.
Can I Rescind an AOP?
Any individuals that have signed an AOP have 60 days to rescind it from the date that it was notarized. This can occur when a father finds out the mother was dishonest and he is not, in fact, the father of the child. If the 60-day threshold has passed, the courts will need to get involved to rescind it. If this occurs, it can mean that child support ordered based on the AOP may also be terminated, as well as visitation and more.
Having a skilled professional in your corner to help walk you through this process can mean huge changes in your life when it comes to paternity, whether that be financially or being able to be a part of your child’s life or not. No two situations are the same, but we are confident that with our years of experience in these cases, we can help you as well. There are many reasons to rely on an attorney from both the mother’s and the father’s perspectives in paternity cases. Contact our Jonesboro offices today at (870) 330-7324 to answer your specific questions and learn more about how we can help you.