Signing the Paternity Acknowledgment Creates a Presumption of Paternity
Today, we’re going to talk about the first of these, which is that you have no rights until you establish them. Oklahoma law is very clear, if you’re not married to the mother, you have no custody rights until you establish them at court.
In other words, what the mother says goes, there are no exceptions. So if you want visitation time, then it’s up to mom. If she wants to cancel at the last minute, or have you jumped through a series of hoops to get a sliver of monitor time. Well, guess what? It’s “Yes, ma’am. How high?” This is true, even if you’re on the birth certificate and you signed an acknowledgment of paternity.
Signing the paternity acknowledgment creates a presumption of paternity, but it doesn’t grant you any parental rights. And so if you’re the father of a child born outside marriage in Oklahoma, you have no rights, but you can change that. You need to file a paternity action in county court and request that your custody rights be established.
When you establish paternity through court action, you get your visitation rights established and you get your child when the court order says, instead of whenever mom says.
You can request joint custody and you have equal say in your child’s upbringing. If the mother is unfit or the child would be better off primarily with you, then you can request sole custody. The truth is fathers do have rights in Oklahoma and they do get the rights enforced in Oklahoma, but not by default.
You have to file for them and sometimes you have to fight for them. Now, if you need help fighting for your rights as a father, then I would encourage you to go to dads.law and speak to one of our attorneys about the specific facts of your case so that we can look into what we can do to help you enforce your rights.
My name is Brian L. Jackson, I am a Tulsa fathers’ rights attorney, and you need to know that you have no rights as an unmarried father under Oklahoma law until you establish them.
Update: On Nov. 1, 2022, a new Oklahoma law was widely touted as providing equal rights for mothers and unmarried fathers. In practice, not much changed. The new law says a father who signs an acknowledgement of paternity has the same rights as if he were married to the mother. While that might protect unmarried fathers from felony kidnapping charges in some rare cases, an father must still go to court to obtain a custody order if the parents are separated, or risk the other parent holding the child and not sharing custody. If you are not absolutely certain of your legal standing as a father, contact a Tulsa child custody attorney as soon as possible to secure your child’s future.