Fayetteville, Arkansas Paternity Dispute Attorney
Paternity disputes can be a sensitive issue for many families. Attempting to establish or disprove paternity can be a difficult process if parents have issues communicating. Arkansas has laws that can assist parents and potential parents in determining the parental status of a father. If you or a family member needs assistance with a paternity dispute, you should consult with an experienced Fayetteville paternity dispute attorney.
At Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP, our attorneys can help you resolve a paternity issue. Our attorneys have experience in many facets of family law that can help you deal with a variety of issues, like child custody, adoption, and divorce. To schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your paternity case, contact us at (479) 439-9840.
How to Establish Paternity under Arkansas Law
Paternity refers to being legally declared as the biological father of a child. In Arkansas, if a married couple has a child, there will be a legal presumption that the husband is the father of the child and his name will be placed on the birth certificate. Therefore, a paternity dispute may only arise among married individuals if a spouse questions their parental status or the true father claims paternity.
If a child is born to an unmarried couple, there will be no automatic legal presumption between the suspected father and the child. In Arkansas, there are two ways to establish paternity: filing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or petitioning Arkansas’ Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE).
Filing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Form
If the parents of the child are unmarried, a mother and father will have to complete an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) form. An AOP form can be executed at any time before the child in question reaches the age of 18. Both parents must sign the form and have it notarized by a notary public. This process does not require a blood test and has been made free by the State of Arkansas; it will also avoid the need to go to court to establish paternity.
An AOP document is often completed if the mother of the child was not married when the child was born or if the child’s biological father is an individual besides the mother’s spouse. If the father of the child is not the mother’s spouse, an AOP form can be completed at the hospital by the mother, husband/ex-husband, or the biological father.
When a child is born into a marriage, the parents cannot use an AOP form if the husband/father later discovers that he is not the child’s biological father. A married couple will have to speak with a family law attorney in these cases to have the husband’s paternity disproved and to allow the biological father to acknowledge paternity.
Getting a Court Order for Paternity Testing
If the alleged father of a child does not agree that he is the father of the child, the mother can petition the Office of Child Support Enforcement for assistance. The OCSE can help establish paternity by giving the putative father a chance to submit to genetic testing. If the putative father of the child does not consent to genetic testing, the OCSE can petition an Arkansas court for a judge’s order demanding the father’s consent to the testing.
If the alleged father is tested and is not the biological father of the child, the mother must cover all court costs and the cost of genetic testing. If the alleged father is determined to be the biological father, then he must pay for any court costs and the cost of testing. The father may also be ordered to pay child support after paternity is established.
How to Deny Paternity in Arkansas
As mentioned, if a married couple has a child, the husband is assumed to be the biological father. If the husband knows he is not the biological father, he can raise this issue at the time of birth and before the mother and child leave the hospital. The husband can deny paternity if the mother and biological father agree and all three parties sign the AOP form. Once the form is notarized, the biological father and child will have a legal relationship.
The OCSE does not possess the authority to assist a person with denying paternity, meaning you should consult an experienced paternity lawyer to represent you. If you sign an AOP form and, after 60 days you believe you are not the biological father, you must request that the court remove your name from the birth certificate. This also applies to situations where a child is born to a married couple.
Work with Our Fayetteville Paternity Dispute Lawyers Today
If you need help establishing or denying paternity, you should speak with an experienced Fayetteville paternity dispute lawyer today. The lawyers at Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP can help you determine your paternity status. A paternity dispute can be an emotionally draining process, and our lawyers will try to make the process as easy as possible. To schedule a confidential legal consultation, call us at (479) 439-9840.