VICKIE LYNN COCHRAN attorney at law
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Fathers’ rights complications for Arkansas unmarried dads

The legal obstacles unmarried, biological fathers have to overcome to obtain a satisfying relationship with children may not seem fair. A married man is presumed to be the father of any child born to his wife. Evidence isn't necessary to prove motherhood, whether or not a woman is married.

Fathers' rights in Arkansas are not easy to come by. You may be paying support for a child you never see. However, with persistence and help from a family law attorney, full parental rights are attainable.

You, the presumed father, may have signed an Acknowledgement of Paternity when your child was born. Your name is on the child's birth certificate. You also might be paying child support as the result of a DNA test, due to a request by the Arkansas Office of Child Support and Enforcement, but visitation and custody rights remain out of reach.

You haven't done anything wrong – you just haven't done quite enough. According to state laws, a separate paternity claim must be filed for fathers' visitation and custody rights. Only with a court's approval will you be granted the same parental rights that married fathers automatically have.

Parental rights also include responsibilities. You and the mother of your child must work out terms of custody. Noncustodial dads are obligated to pay child support, although you may have been doing that all along.

Establishing paternity for full fathers' rights takes time, effort and financial commitment. Many Little Rock biological fathers are very glad they made the investment. The process isn't always easy.

The unmarried parents' relationship may be over. Disputes over the father's inclusion in a child's life are not unusual – some mothers go to extremes to prevent fathers from making contact with a child. A family law attorney can help an unmarried dad deal with setbacks and move toward the ultimate goal of developing a great relationship with his child.

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