Establishing Legal Paternity in the State of Oregon

Whether dealing with a divorce or child custody case, or you simply wanting to become more informed about your rights within a parental relationship, it’s important to understand how Oregon law interprets legal paternity. While it might seem straightforward, it’s a fairly nuanced concept that can have a great impact on present or future legal proceedings.

Paternity can be established in a few different ways. A father’s claim to paternity can be assumed under the law; it can be formally acknowledged through an agreement between the intended father and mother; or it can be established by the court, which may involve DNA testing. The child receives certain rights and benefits from the legal father, therefore it is crucial to establish paternity in the case of a legal dispute.

Benefits to the Parents and Child

Oregon law holds each legal parent accountable for certain responsibilities related to the child, and it also grants parents certain rights. The legal father retains rights in determining the child custody, visitation, and support obligations. Upon confirmation of paternity, the child obtains the right to inherit from the father, receive financial support from the father until age 18 (21 if attending school), and potentially receive benefits from the government. Even if you’re no longer in a relationship, your decision to establish paternity can improve the child’s psychological well being, access to medical care, and overall quality of life.

Presuming Paternity

Paternity can be presumed in certain situations. When a child is born during a marriage, or within 300 days of a marriage termination, Oregon law gives the presumption of paternity to the husband. Either party has the opportunity to challenge this presumption in court.

Acknowledging Paternity

If a child is born while the parents are unmarried, the mother and father can sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity” and file it with the state. This is possible regardless of whether you expect to marry in the future or have no plans to marry, and it requires a signature from both parties.

Court Rulings on Paternity

When neither party can come to an agreement, the courts can determine paternity at either the mother, the alleged father, or the state of Oregon’s behest. You can prove paternity with documentary and testimonial evidence, but it is most commonly established through genetic testing. A DNA test can accurately determine biological fatherhood with a blood sample, and the results must demonstrate a level of certainty that meets or exceeds 99 per cent. The court will then presume paternity and make any subsequent judgments in accordance with that finding.

Get Your Legal Facts Straight

If you wish to dispute paternity, pursue paternity, object to the results of a DNA test, or otherwise challenge a court ruling, it is best to have the help of an experienced attorney. Legal disputes over a child can be stressful at best, but a reliable judgment of legal paternity will help to clarify the situation going forward. Feel free to get in touch with Pacific Cascade Family Law if you need qualified legal counsel for matters of divorce, child custody, and legal paternity. We will work hard to secure the best possible results for you and your child.