On the surface, determining who the father is in a paternity proceeding seems like it would be a simple and straightforward issue to resolve. In Portland, as is the case throughout Oregon, it’s important to establish this fact for purposes of determining who must pay child support.
Determining paternity works fine in cases where an acknowledged father steps forward and has agreed that he is the biological father of a child born to unmarried parents. This is accomplished when both parents sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form at a hospital when the child is born, or the father is shown on the child’s birth certificate. In cases where only one parent will have custody of the child, the parent who has physical custody of the child at the time the form is signed is said to have legal custody.
But it is less clear cut in a case where a person is the presumed father. There are certain standards that come into play to identify who the presumed father is.
- The man and the mother were married at the time the child was conceived or born.
- The man married the mother after the child was born and he agreed to list his name on the child’s birth certificate for the purposes of supporting the child.
- The man publicly and openly acknowledged the child was his.
Paternity attorneys will advise that in addition to establishing financial support for the child, establishing paternity creates a legal status that means the father has all the parental rights and responsibilities that a parent would have if the child had been born to a mother and father who were married.
If you do not have custody of the child, this can include visitation rights and an ability to seek custody, a responsibility to contribute to the support of the child, and in cases where there is a support judgment, support may be enforced by withholding wages and intercepting tax refunds.