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Arkansas law allows men to accept or reject paternity

Most Arkansas citizens would probably agree that a child's biological father is likely to be more concerned about the best interests of a child than a nonbiological father would be. In one of our previous posts, we discussed voluntary acknowledgement of paternity of a child by his or her father, even though he is not legally recognized as the mother's spouse. The agreement is entered into by both the mother and the father.

Not every person has the same emotional capacity to nurture and a nonbiological father may or may not be able to provide the love and support that a child needs from his or her parents. A lack of emotional support could affect the child's development and impact his or her physical, mental and emotional growth.

State law requires that a child who receives various social and government benefits have a legal father established. A legal father is not necessarily a biological father and could be the current husband of a married woman or an adoptive father.

A married woman's husband is generally presumed to be the father of a child. However, a father can deny paternity if he questions whether he is the child's biological father. If the mother and apparent biological father agree, then they can legally establish paternity when the child is born and before the mother leaves the hospital.

The next step for all parties is to sign an AOP agreement form and then have the document notarized. Once this process is complete, the biological father will also become the legal father of the child. This does not automatically entitle him to visitation rights. If a man wants to disestablish paternity, he will have to do this on his own or through the services of an attorney.

Source: DFA.Arkansas.gov, "Paternity," accessed Jan. 22, 2015

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