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A guide to becoming the legal father of your child

If you had a child with your girlfriend outside of marriage, Oklahoma law does not immediately deem you the legal father. You might be frustrated and want to have custody and visitation rights. Thankfully, there are methods for you to establish paternity in Oklahoma.

There are multiple benefits to becoming the legal father of your child. Not only does it benefit you, but there are ways it helps the whole family. Below is an overview of the methods of becoming the legal father and the advantages of completing this process.

Voluntarily signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity

If you and the mother of your child did not sign an AOP at the hospital when your child was born, it is not too late. You can sign it at your county health department, child support office or the Oklahoma State Department of Health. This is a completely voluntary process that is fairly simple if both of you come to the same agreement.

Filing a paternity lawsuit

If the mother is unwilling to voluntarily sign an AOP with you, you might need to file a paternity lawsuit. You might settle the case or go to trial. If it goes to trial, the judge might order you to take a genetic test to prove you are the biological father. If the genetic test is successful, the judge will issue a paternity order, and you will be the legal father.

Benefits of establishing paternity

Aside from potentially gaining certain visitation and custody rights, becoming the legal father comes with the following benefits for you, your child and the mother:

  • You have a say in making decisions for what is best for your child.
  • You can help out with educational and medical expenses.
  • You can establish a close bond with your child from a young age.
  • Your child can qualify for Social Security and medical insurance.

If you want to experience these benefits by establishing paternity, seek guidance from a family law attorney.

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