When you have a child with someone in Arkansas outside of marriage, you need to take certain legal steps if you wish to collect child support or gain visitation or custody rights, depending on your situation. While establishing paternity enables you to collect child support or petition the court for rights to your child, doing so is also highly beneficial for your son or daughter.
Per the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, there are two clear ways through which to establish legal parentage in Arkansas.
Signing a voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity
If there is no disagreement about who fathered the child at the center of the matter, then you have the option of establishing paternity by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. You have the option of doing this at the hospital when your baby is born. You also have the option of doing so at any point until your son or daughter turns 18. This is a free, easy way to establish your child’s paternity.
Petitioning for judicial establishment of paternity
If there is some dispute over who fathered the child at the center of the case, either parent may petition the court for a judicial establishment of paternity. In this situation, the court may order the presumed father to undergo genetic testing to prove whether he did – or did not – father the child in question.
Establishing paternity does not automatically grant one of the child’s parents visitation or custody, nor does it make one parent immediately responsible for paying child support. However, after establishing paternity, you may go through the proper legal channels to create a child support, visitation or custody arrangement.