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What are the custody rights of unwed fathers in Oklahoma?

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2024 | Family Law |

Fatherhood is a powerful bond, and even for unmarried fathers, the desire to be involved in a child’s life is often strong. However, navigating the legal landscape of child custody can be confusing.

This is especially true in states with specific requirements for unwed fathers. While the law prioritizes the child’s best interests, understanding your rights as an unmarried father is crucial to exercising them effectively.

Establishing paternity: The foundation for custody

Unlike married fathers whose parental rights are automatically recognized, unwed fathers in the Sooner State have no legal custody rights until paternity is established. This means the mother has sole decision-making power regarding the child’s upbringing. There are three ways to establish paternity:

  1. Being named on the birth certificate: If you were listed as the father on the birth certificate at the time of birth, paternity is presumed.
  2. Signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP): This is a legal document signed by both parents acknowledging your fatherhood.
  3. Court-ordered paternity testing: If there’s disagreement about paternity, the court can order a DNA test to determine the biological father.

Once paternity is established, you can pursue a custody arrangement through the court system. The type of custody arrangement ultimately depends on various factors, including the child’s age and needs, the living situation and stability of each parent, the emotional and physical health of each parent and the parents’ ability to communicate and cooperate effectively.

Being an unwed father in Oklahoma doesn’t compromise your parental rights, but you’ll need to establish paternity before you can exercise those rights legal. Remember, involving a legal team can provide invaluable guidance and help to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.