Dads Are Not Disposable
Video Transcribed: Emergencies and paternity cases, not a good situation for dads right now. My name is Brian L. Jackson. I am an Oklahoma father’s rights attorney, and I’m going to talk to you a little bit about a phenomenon I’ve been running into recently that is not a good sign for dads, that we probably need to get out there and talk to our local legislature about getting fixed.
The problem is basically this. If you are an unmarried father and you’re dealing with a situation where your child’s immediate health, safety, and welfare are being endangered, while there is a procedure under Title 43 to file an emergency as part of paternity, as a practical matter, this has become impossible.
The reason is related to the issue of standing. Essentially, standing is your ability to complain about a problem in court, is to put it in a very, very oversimplified way. Because in a paternity case, as an unwed father, you don’t start with any rights, you have to be able to prove that you have status as the dad.
In other words, the way that the courts are interpreting this is it basically means you need an acknowledgment of paternity. Now, normally what you would do in this situation is would talk to either DHS or vital records and obtain a copy.
The problem is that DHS in Oklahoma has been referring us to vital records and vital records apparently have a four-month backlog for electronic and telephone orders and their offices are closed to the public as a result of COVID.
What this is causing is a problem where you can’t really file an emergency as a practical matter in paternity because of the inability to access that form. Unless you’ve already been adjudicated the father in some other way, paternity emergencies when you’ve not adjudicated the father are pretty well impossible unless you have that form in your hand already.
This kind of means a couple of things. First of all, if you are looking at a situation where there’s an emergency, your first step should always be to call DHS. Even before you call a lawyer, you call DHS. Secondly, it might be time to consider pursuing guardianship where you don’t have to prove standing as the father to proceed.
Although this guardianship comes with its own obstacles, which I’m going to talk about in a future video, it’s about the only option you may have in that situation other than calling DHS, because, as a practical matter, it’s pretty nigh impossible to get ahold of an assigned acknowledgment of paternity in a timely manner.
I can speak from personal experience in saying that the bureaucrats in the department of vital records for Oklahoma are not concerning themselves with moving their butts. This is a problem. It’s a problem you probably want to take up with your local representative for the state legislature before it becomes an active problem for you. Guys, if you’re finding yourself dealing with an emergency, you definitely need an attorney.