VICKIE LYNN COCHRAN attorney at law
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Unmarried fathers’ rights in Arkansas

Pulaski County dads who aren't married must take steps to ensure the state recognizes the legal bond between them and their children. Paternity must be established before fathers' rights can be exercised. Marital status can seem like an unfair measure of whether a man is a father, but there are ways to overcome legal obstacles.

In Arkansas, a father is a child's biological parent. A putative father is a man who claims to be the father of a child born to a woman who was not married to the man at the time the baby was born. Putative fathers have not established paternity but may register with the state's Putative Fathers Registry.

Once registered, the putative father may to be notified about legal proceedings concerning the child, including information about parental rights' terminations or adoption proceedings. To be eligible for putative fathers' rights, the man must develop a "significant relationship" with the child, including support and custodial relationships.

A putative father's claim can be revoked, once a child is born. An Arkansas court will accept a written, notarized statement from the registrant stating he believes he is not the child's father. A putative father registry claim also can be rescinded when a court determines another man is the child's father.

An acknowledgment of paternity is a formal document signed by both parents that gives unmarried fathers legal rights. A court will recognize the validity of this document, which may be used to press forward with visitation or child support claims.

Seeking legal advice before making any claims of fathers' rights is recommended. Many unmarried fathers are uncertain of laws affecting them. It's better to understand your legal position before taking actions than face unexpected consequences later.

Fathers' rights attorneys are willing to help with any situation, whether it involves difficulties dealing with a child's mother or pursuing rights biological fathers are entitled to have.

Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway, "The Rights of Unmarried Fathers" accessed Mar. 06, 2015

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