When a child is born to parents who are not married, the courts must step in to establish custody, visitation and child support. This type of action is called a paternity suit. In Arkansas, the law gives the mother primary custody of the kid(s) until a court finds that it is in the kids' best interest to be placed in the custody of another. While the court must always first consider what is in a child's best interests, when the parents aren't married, mom gets a head start.
Yes and no. While it's enough to establish that a person is the father of a child, it is not enough to establish custody and visitation rights, nor is it enough to establish child support. The courts must intervene and set these things out in a court order so that paternity rights are officially established. Often, a father feels like his name on the birth certificate is enough. It's not.
Not necessarily. Arkansas law will allow a judge to establish paternity by the parties simply agreeing that mom is mom and dad is dad. Once paternity is established by the judge, the parties can then move on to issues of custody, visitation and child support.
Visitation rights can be tricky in paternity cases, especially when most of them seem to start out with one parent having almost all of the time with the child, and the other parent getting very little. Click here to learn more about visitation rights in Arkansas.
Often times, parents don't realize that child support in paternity cases is the same as in divorce cases. Non-custodial parents must pay support and, typically, provide health insurance for the kids. (To learn more about child support law in Arkansas, click here.)
No matter what the situation, and whether you are mom or dad, you need an attorney who understands the complexities that surround paternity cases, as well as someone who is skilled and aggressive enough to deal with those complexities and to help establish your rights. Rhoads & Armstrong can help. Please call 479-254-0135 for a confidential consultation or connect with us online.