When children are born, an immediate, strong, and loving bond is formed between them and their parents. Children’s parents play a vital role in their lives from when they are born until they can care for themselves and beyond. Parents are tasked with caring and providing for their children and making sure they have the resources to live a healthy and productive life. Protecting children and ensuring they have these resources is important to all states across the U.S., which is why many states including Oregon have put legislation in place to ensure that children are cared and provided for properly.
Effect of a Father in a Child’s Life
When issues revolving around the raising of children arise in a family or between parents, these issues are most often resolved in the family court system. Traditionally, mothers have been held in higher regard than their male counterparts, considering mothers have been the traditional caregivers for children while the fathers worked to earn income for the family. While mothers still play this important role, a larger emphasis has been placed on the crucial role fathers play in their children’s lives, specifically their social and educational development as well as the development of language.
Establishing Paternity in Oregon
When parents find themselves in the family court system dealing with child custody, child support, or visitation issues, the first step for the court is to establish the child’s paternity if it has not already been completed. In the state of Oregon, if a couple is married and has a child, it is assumed the mother’s husband is the child’s legal and biological father. When the couple is not married, they need to take additional steps to establish the child’s legal and biological father. Of the two methods, using an Acknowledgement of Paternity form is the simplest to complete.
A man in the state of Oregon can acknowledge he is the father of a child by signing a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity” form. This form also has to be completed by the child’s mother, and the signing of this document also has to be witnessed by a third party. Once the form has been completed, it needs to be submitted to the State Registrar of the Center for Health Statistics for the state, at which time the child’s legal and biological father has been established in the eyes of the law. Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity forms are generally available at health care facilities.
Filing For Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity
If either party is unsure of who the child’s father is, they should not fill out or file the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity – this is a legally binding document, and once it has been submitted and processed, it can be very hard to retract. By signing this form, the father takes on the responsibility of caring for and supporting the child financially. Each parent does have 60 days to rescind a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, but once child support and visitation orders have been made for the child, the parents are not able to rescind their acknowledgement of paternity.
If the parents do not agree as to who the child’s father is, they have the second option of petitioning the court to establish paternity. To do this, one party needs to file a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity” in his or her local county court. Individuals who can file this petition include the child’s mother, any man claiming to be the child’s father, the child’s appointed guardian, an agent of the Division of Child Support (DCS) for the state, or the child him or herself with the assistance of a guardian ad litem or an appointed attorney.
Once the petition to establish paternity has been filed, the court may order genetic or DNA testing to conclude who the child’s biological father is. This genetic test usually settles the matter of who the child’s father is, but if one or more of the parties involved is not satisfied with this outcome, the issue goes to trial, and a judge determines the identity of the child’s father. Once the judge has passed down a final paternity order, the court can then move to decide on other important issues regarding the child including child custody, child support, and visitation.
Father’s Rights to Child Custody and Visitation in Oregon
Like many other states across the U.S., the state of Oregon uses the “best interests of the child” standard to make child custody and visitation determinations. Under this standard, the judge evaluates the child’s best interests and looks at a list of factors that includes the emotional tie between the child, both parents, and other family members, both parents’ lifestyles including their earning capacity, income, and living situation, and if there are any instances of abuse in either parent’s household.
Under state law, the court cannot favor one parent over the other based on gender. This means fathers have an equal right to custody and visitation as their female counterparts. In most cases, children having equal time and exposure to both parents is in their best interest, which is why joint custody arrangements are preferred. When this is not an option, the court moves to appoint a primary custodian or parent who will care for the child most the time. Based on the factors listed above, if the father proves to be the better primary custodian, he is awarded custody.
Father’s Right to Child Support
In cases where the father is named primary custodian, he has equal right to petition the court for a child support order. Child support is a payment from the non-custodial parent to the primary custodial parent to help financially support their shared child – this money is meant to be used to provide food, clothing, and shelter for the child as well as medical expenses and other costs. The amount of child support to be paid is based on several factors including the child’s needs and the income of the parent making the child support payments.
When custodial parents are having difficulty collecting child support from the non-custodial parent, they have the option of contacting the Division of Child Support (DCS) for the state of Oregon to assist them with collecting the ordered support. If support is not being paid, the primary custodial parent needs to file an action to have the order enforced. During this process, the non-custodial parent should also seek a knowledgeable attorney to help during this process by filling out the required forms as well as attending the child support enforcement hearing with the primary custodial parent.
How a Dad’s Rights Lawyer Can Help
Trying to understand parental rights and a confusing family court system can be a lot for one individual to handle, especially if the individual does not have a background in law and legislation. Any father who is facing a paternity issue, child custody case, or child support order should seek the legal assistance of a knowledgeable lawyer who is well versed in father’s rights and understands the family court system for the state of Oregon. These legal professionals can be an invaluable resource.