Who’s Your Daddy? Establishing Paternity in Arkansas

Every year in June, we set aside a special Sunday to celebrate the extraordinary fathers who have influenced our lives. But for some, the road to establishing paternity was rocky.

Let's revisit the rules and regulations surrounding paternity in the state of Arkansas. While some situations can be navigated amicably, others will require legal aid.


The Intricacies of Paternity During Marriage (or Divorce)

If you’re happily married and expecting a baby with your partner, the husband will automatically be listed as the child’s father on the birth certificate. No blood test to establish paternity is required!

But unfortunately, life isn’t always so simple. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 673,989 divorces and annulments were granted across the U.S. in 2022. This statistic does not consider couples who are in the legal process of getting divorced — which can be a lengthy affair that can span over a year (or longer).

What does this mean for you if your soon to be ex-wife becomes pregnant and gives birth during your divorce proceedings? Well, you might find your name listed on the child’s birth certificate.



The biological father of your ex-spouse needs to sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) to be listed on the child’s birth certificate. This form can be completed at the hospital at the time of birth, but must be notarized before the individual can be named as the father on the birth certificate.

If there is no AOP, and you are listed as the father on a non-biological child’s birth certificate, it’s time to contact a family law attorney. You’ll need a blood test to prove you are not the father and court order to disestablish paternity.


How Unmarried Couples Establish Paternity

Establishing paternity for unmarried couples is relatively straightforward — just sign an AOP at the hospital and the biological mother and father will be listed on the birth certificate.

Alternatively, if a single mother gives birth, the birth certificate will have her name and a blank space in place of the father. Later down the road, the birth certificate can be updated to list the father. If the single mother files for child support, the biological father will need to be included on the birth certificate.



However, not everything is so easy. Whether you are an expectant mother or a prospective father, here are some real life scenarios and your legal options for establishing paternity.


Biological Father Refuses to Sign AOP

In situations where an expectant mother is confident about the paternity of the child, but the biological father refuses to complete an AOP, the mother has two options:

The OCSE will contact the father and set up a blood test to establish paternity. If the father does not cooperate, the OCSE will take the matters to a judge, who may order the man to complete paternity testing.

If you choose to petition the court, you’ll want an experienced family law attorney helping you build a case. Lawyers can help their clients fight for court fees and genetic testing.


Paternity Doubt

If the expectant mother and prospective father have doubts of paternity before the child is born, an AOP should not be completed until genetic testing has established the biological father.



If you sign an AOP, but you feel uncertain about the paternity of a child, you have 60 days to withdraw. After the 60 day timeframe, you’ll need to go to court and present your case to a judge. Even if another man has been established as the biological father with genetic testing, the only way to remove your name from the birth certificate is through a court order.


Let the Attorneys Hickey & Hull Assist You With Establishing Paternity

The family law attorneys at Hickey & Hull are dedicated to helping strengthen the relationship between parents and children by fighting for our client’s legal rights. This includes establishing the paternity of a child.

If you have found yourself in a situation where you need a lawyer, contact the professionals at Hickey & Hull. You can schedule a consultation and establish a plan with us to receive the best outcome in court! With five law offices around the state of Arkansas, a dedicated member of our family law team will be available to help you.