Get a Paternity Decree
Video Transcribed: What happens if the mother of your child dies when you’re not married to her? If the mother of your child that you have had out of wedlock dies, it can create an interesting problem, particularly if you’ve never been officially adjudicated to be a dad.
The reason is under Oklahoma law, if you were an unwed father and you have not been adjudicated in district court as dad and there isn’t a custody and visitation order in place, in other words, a paternity decree, you have no rights to custody of that child. In fact, you’re not technically legally speaking the child’s father, even if you are factually the child’s father. And that by the way includes if your name’s on the birth certificate.
Number one, this is a good argument for if you know you have a kid on the way that you want to have rights to, get after that. Get adjudicated dad. Get a paternity decree. But how about if that situation, if that opportunity’s come and gone and now mom’s gone and the grandparents or some other relative are looking to get guardianship of the child, or worse, they want to adopt. What do you do?
Well, the first thing is if you’re served with guardianship pleadings, if you get notice of a guardianship, show up to court and show up to court with a lawyer who knows something about paternity law in Oklahoma and about guardianships.
Then the other thing is to file paternity immediately, preferably before they can get into court on the guardianship. File paternity. If you are on the birth certificate, you want to attach a copy of that and attach a copy of your acknowledgment of paternity that you would have had to complete to get on the birth certificate to your pleadings so that you can file for emergency custody on the grounds that Mom is deceased. Most likely the court will give you custody so long as you’re a fit and proper person to have custody.
And that’s something you really need to be very honest with your attorney about. Because if something comes out that you thought wouldn’t, that you thought you could keep to yourself and it makes you look bad, it’s going to do you much more harm if you’re not straightforward with the judge about it in the beginning. But that’s how you can handle this situation. Now, what about if you were not on the birth certificate?
Well, then, in that case, you may need to pursue a guardianship of the child in the interim. And again, you’re to predicate it off the same argument, essentially, that Mom is no longer available because she’s deceased, and that you’re the most appropriate guardian.
Now, in that situation, you’re probably going to want to demonstrate that you’ve been involved in the child’s life somehow, and the child knows you because the elements of getting a guardianship are that you have to show that it’s necessary or convenient.
Obviously, if Mom was the one that had custody and care of the child and she’s dead, then it would be necessary and convenient for there to be a guardian. But then the court’s going to make a decision on the basis of best interest as to who that guardian is going to be.
If the child has had a long-term relationship with say the grandparents and they’re seeking guardianship and the child barely knows you, there’s a good chance that the grandparents will get guardianship. If you are looking for a divorce attorney for men or a men’s rights attorney in Tulsa, contact me.