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Legal rights through Arkansas Acknowledgements of Paternity

Married Little Rock parents are granted legal rights to a child upon a baby's birth. It is not necessary for husbands to undergo testing to prove paternity. Under Arkansas family laws, a married father is the legal father, presumably.

Not all parents are married at the time a child is born. In some cases, a husband is not a baby's biological father. An unmarried father has no instant parental rights, but must follow rules to establish those right. An attorney's assistance often makes the paternity establishment process easier, particularly when parents disagree.

Unmarried parents may sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity any time up until a child's 18th birthday. A biological father who wants to pursue child custody and visitation rights must establish paternity first. Obviously, the most opportune time to claim legal rights as a father is at the time a child is born.

When unmarried couples are in agreement on the man's paternity, the parents sign the AOP form without having to establish paternity through a court. There is no DNA test required, although the signatures must be witnessed, and the form must be notarized. The father's name is then added to the birth certificate.

If a woman gives birth while she is married to someone other than the biological father, the AOP process still can be used to establish paternity. However, the husband or, in some cases, ex-husband, also must agree to sign the AOP form.

Sometimes mothers require help to identify a child's father. The Arkansas Office of Child Support Enforcement provides this service, whether the alleged father voluntarily agrees to genetic testing or complies as the result of a court order.

Unmarried fathers are advised not to sign AOP forms, unless a biological link to the child is confirmed. A family law attorney can provide paternity establishment guidance for unmarried mothers or fathers.

Source: Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, "Paternity" Sep. 16, 2014

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