Establishing paternity in Oregon

There are a variety of reasons for parents to establish the legal paternity of their child or children. The paternity process in Oregon establishes and documents who the legal father is for a child who is born outside of marriage. Regardless of whether the parents are in a relationship or not, having a record of a child's biological parentage is essential.

Some fathers are unaware that they do not have any legal parental rights if they have a child out of wedlock. For example, a father can't pursue custody of a child or any other child-related issues until legal paternity has been established.

The process for establishing paternity in Oregon

According to the Oregon Judicial Department, a paternity proceeding can be initiated by the state, a child's guardian, the mother or the presumed father. There are, however, other ways to establish a child's paternity. Some of those ways are:

  • By presumption, if the parents are married at the time of the child's birth
  • By both parents filling out a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form and filing it with the Center for Health Statistics, if the parents marry at a later time
  • By administrative proceeding
  • By the biological father filing with the State Registrar of the Center for Health Statistics a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form

Studies have shown that genetic or DNA testing is the most accurate way to determine a child's paternity, and once paternity has been established, a court will reconsider the issue only under certain circumstances.

Why establishing paternity is important

The Oregon Health Authority notes that establishing paternity is important because all children need their parents' support and assistance. Mothers and fathers have legal responsibilities, as well as rights. Establishing paternity can allow a child to obtain certain benefits to which he or she may be entitled, such as Social Security compensation, inheritance money and/or medical insurance under the father's medical plan.

Additionally, establishing paternity can be very important for health reasons. If a child ends up with a serious health issue, it might be helpful for the child to know the medical history of close relatives, especially the father. Further, if a child wants to travel internationally, he or she might have a problem doing so if a legal father is not listed on the child's birth certificate.

Any mother or father who is interested in establishing paternity of a child should consider seeking counsel from a legal professional. A family law attorney will be able to provide guidance to help protect the parent's and the child's interests. A lawyer can also file motions with the court regarding paternity, child support, custody and other family law issues.