The Presumption of Paternity is a powerful family law tool in Oklahoma. The impact of this legal tool is mostly felt when its least expected. Most often its felt when a married couple splits up without getting divorced and someone gets pregnant. Or if a party to the marriage gets pregnant by a man that inst her current husband. In these and similar situations, there is a presumption that the husband is the father.
Oklahoma Family Law and the Uniform Parentage Act
Under this parentage act, a man is presumed to be the father of the child when:
He and the mother of the child are married to each other and the child is born during the marriage;
He and the mother of the child were married to each other and the child is born within three hundred (300) days after the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, dissolution of marriage or after decree of separation;
Before the birth of the child, he and the mother of the child married each other in apparent compliance with law, even if the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child is born during the invalid marriage or within three hundred (300) days after its termination by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, a decree of separation, or dissolution of marriage;
After the birth of the child, he and the mother of the child married each other in apparent compliance with law, whether or not the marriage is or could be declared invalid, and he voluntarily asserted his paternity of the child, and:
the assertion is in a record with the State Department of Health, Division of Vital Records or the Department of Human Services,
he agreed to be and is named as the child’s father on the child’s birth certificate, or
he promised in a record to support the child as his own; or
For the first two (2) years of the child’s life, he resided in the same household with the child and openly held out the child as his own.
Presumption of Paternity Can be Overcome
It’s important to realize that this is only a presumption. However, such a presumption is easier to overcome if proceedings to adjudicate the real father are started before the child reaches the age of two (2).
The court not only looks at the presumptions, but will also require the parties to DNA test. Still, even if the DNA results are negative, the court may still decide that it is in the best interest of the minor child, for the presumption of paternity to remain in place.
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Paternity and Best Interest of the Child
In looking at the best interest of a child, the court will appoint a Guardian Ad Litem or GAL. The GAL’s duty is to conduct an investigation as to whether are not it would be in the best interest for the parental bonds to be terminated. The GAL will look at the possible date of conception, when the presumed father was notified of the pregnancy, the existence of a acknowledge biological father, and the relationship between the minor child and the presumed father.
If the presumption of paternity remains in place, the unfortunate result is that a non-biological father may have to pay child support for a child that is not his. If the paternity of a child is questioned, its best to bring proceedings prior to the child turning two (2), to avoid the costs of hiring the GAL and to avoid establishing a relationship with the minor child that would support a presumption of paternity.