Establishing Legal Paternity in Oregon

Father, dad, daddy, pop, papa – many are the names and nicknames to call a paternal parent. When people traditionally think of a father, they think about a biological father. For most circumstances, the biological father is the legal father and has the rights, responsibilities, and obligations to child as set forth by law. However, under Oregon law, the paternal rights, responsibilities, and obligations are given to the legal father. Therefore, the designation of father can extend to individuals other than the biological father.

Under Oregon law, parents are required to take care of their children who are poor and unable to work to take care of themselves. This includes children under the age of eighteen and dependent adult children who have a physical, mental or other medical disability. Mothers and fathers are co-parents to their children. In many co-parenting situations, both parents contribute to the comfort, care and guidance of their children. The may agree to matters concerning the welfare of their children; however, some parents may not be able to agree. The parents may need to take legal action to resolve the issues. Married and unmarried parents may petition the courts to seek child custody, child support, and parenting time.

State law states that both parent have equal rights and responsibilities to their children. There is no preference from the mother over the father when determining child custody, child support, and parenting time. The courts determine issues concerning children using the best interest of the child standard. Although the custodial parent can be either the mother or the father of the child, the parents must be the legal parents of the child. A legal parent is the person who adopts or is legally established or declared the legal parent under Oregon law. For the mother, parentage is established by giving birth to the child, determination of maternity by a court order, adoption of the child. Establishing legal parentage for a father may require more steps to prove paternity of the child.

When a father seeks custody or parenting time of their child, the purported father must establish legal paternity. The establishment of parentage as a father may occur under state law in ways such as, by presumptions listed in the Oregon statute, adjudication of paternity, adoption of the child, or acknowledgment of paternity by the man. The presumption that a man is the legal father of child occurs if: 1) the man is married and not legally separated to the birth mother at the time the child is born; or 2) the man is married to the birth mother but the child is born within 300 days after an entry of legal separation or the marriage ends by death, annulment, or dissolution.

A man may establish his legal paternity by voluntarily acknowledging that he is the father. Under Oregon law, voluntarily acknowledgement of paternity may occur in one of the following ways:

  • By marriage of the parents of the child after the child born , and then filing the voluntary acknowledgement of paternity form with the State Registrar of the Center of Health Statistics
  • By filing the voluntary acknowledgement of paternity form with the State Registrar of the Center of Health Statistics
  • Established legal paternity by voluntary acknowledgment a state other than Oregon

A court may initiate a court proceedings to establish paternity in cases in which the child receives state fund and benefits in lieu of support from the legal father. The court may seek reimbursement for the funds. A form called Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility is served to the alleged father which orders him to pay the funds.

In establishing paternity, some cases require the prospective father to take a DNA test to prove the man is genetically the father of the child at issue. The man is concluded to be the father of the child if DNA test show that it 99.9% of higher certainty of paternity.

A father who adopts a child is also consider to the legal father. An adoption a child gives the father the same rights and responsibilities that a biological father would have. The adopted father does not share legal paternity with the biological father. This is because the adoption terminates the legal rights of the biological father and gives them to the adopted father. If the child to be adopted is fourteen years old or older, the father cannot adopt the child without the child’s consent.

The reason that a mother, father, or court may establish legal paternity is more than for obtaining child support, child custody, or parenting time. Establishing paternity allows that child to receive benefits from the legal father. The child may receive health coverage and educational support. If the legal father dies, having an established paternity allows the child to receive inheritance, probate property, military or veterans benefits, or social security benefits.

To schedule a consultation with one of our paternity attorneys in Oregon or SW Washington, call us now at 503.222.9116 or write us.

Andrew Newsom

Andrew Newsom

Andy is a partner at Gearing Rackner & McGrath. He has practiced family law exclusively since 2010 and is licensed to practice in Oregon. Andrew has high-level experience in all areas of family law. Although he is stimulated by trial advocacy, his first priority is to provide his clients with creative and efficient solutions without unneeded expense.

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