When a man impregnates a woman he has few rights concerning the welfare of the fetus or the child. He does not have the right to stop a woman from getting an abortion. She does not need his consent. She does not even need to notify him if she plans to terminate the pregnancy. If the woman decides to carry the child to term the father may be required to pay child support. If he refuses the court can garnish his wages and seize his property and bank accounts. The father may also be required to pay for the cost of pregnancy and child birth, but he also has the right to seek custody of the child or visitation. If there is any doubt that the child is the man’s, the modern paternity test can determine the paternity of the child with nearly 100% accuracy.
Legitimizations and Paternity
If the father and mother were not married at the time of the child`s birth, an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity or a court order naming the legal father establishes paternity. The alleged father may voluntarily admit that he is the father of the child. This can be done through the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Program of Arkansas that is offered at all birthing centers in Arkansas, all Child Support Enforcement Offices, and Vital Records Offices. In cases where he does not admit paternity, a court hearing and/or paternity tests can be scheduled. Paternity tests examine the genetic markers of the mother, alleged father and the child. The paternity tests will indicate the likelihood of paternity or exclude the alleged father. The alleged father must pay for the costs of the tests. If the alleged father is excluded, the custodial parent (CP) may be required to pay for the tests.
The process of judicially establishing paternity can be initiated by the father or the mother in the State of Arkansas. Establishing paternity is the process of determining who is the biological father of a child. At one time the medical establishment could determine in only some cases with certainty that a particular man was not the father of a child. The mother of a child needed to use other evidence to prove circumstantially if the man was the father. Today, through DNA testing, it is possible to determine with almost 100% accuracy if the man is the father. It can also determine with 100% accuracy that a specific man is not the father. Once paternity is established, the father must pay support for the child and may have to pay part or all of the pregnancy and child birth expenses. If the man refuses to pay, the court may garnish his wages, seize his property and bank accounts, or even send him to jail.
It is important to note that a father has absolutely no legal rights to his child until paternity has been established, and he has been adjudicated the father of the minor child. At that time, he can determine whether to proceed to setting up visitation and arrange to pay for child support.
Visitation / Custody / Support Rights
In most cases, the mother and father will agree on their rights to custody and visitation. If they can’t agree, then the court will make the decision for them. The court makes custody decisions based upon the best interests of the child. It must be determined if the visits are to be supervised or restricted in any way. If there are no restrictions necessary, then a visitation schedule may be established. Either the parents or the court may decide on a schedule that is fair and reasonable for both the parents and the child, including outlines for phone calls, weekend visits and holidays. Transportation arrangements and travel notices are further issues that may be resolved. The visitation right of grandparents and step-parents may also be addressed.