Picture this scenario: You and your girlfriend deliver a happy, healthy baby at the hospital. The baby has your eyes, and your last name. Everything goes great for awhile, until you decide that it's best for you and your girlfriend to go your separate ways. You assume that because you are on the birth certificate, you have certain rights as a father. But is that really the case?
Answer: Not exactly. In Arkansas, unlike in many other states, you have to actually file a Petition for Paternity in circuit court and be found to be the legal father of the child before you have any rights to custody or visitation. It is not automatic. Your girlfriend can also pursue you for child support and ask that you be found to be the father that way. In either case, a judge has to declare you to be the father.
You may be interested to know that in Arkansas, if a woman is not married at the time of the child's birth, then she is legally the sole custodian of the child, until there is an order of paternity and custody signed by a judge.
So what do you do? You've broken up with your girlfriend and you want to see your child. You will need to come to my office for a consultation where we can assess your situation, and then file a Petition for Paternity, asking for you to be declared to be the legal father of the child, and for you to be awarded either custody or visitation.
Too many dads come into my office either thinking they automatically have rights, or that they'll never get custody. Neither assumption is correct. I can help assess your situation and give you a path towards accomplishing your goals. Come see me today!