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How Arkansas paternity is established and disestablished

In Arkansas, children who are born to married parents have an established legal relationship with the mother’s husband, typically assumed to be the biological father. The name of this male thus appears on the birth certificate and establishes paternity. A child born outside of marriage can have his or her father’s name written on the birth certificate, only after he acknowledges his biological relationship by filling an acknowledgement of paternity (AOP) form. This gives the biological father the status of legal father.

In cases in which a man is not married to the mother, but is certain of his paternity, he can assert paternity and establish a legal relationship with his child. This is done by signing the acknowledgement of paternity form and having it notarized.

On the other hand, to have a denial of paternity become immediately legal, it should be made at the time of delivery or before the mother leaves the hospital — and only if both the he and the mother agree. For the reverse to occur — that is, to disestablish paternity — the issue is handled only by the man and the mother without legal help from the state. Either one can sign a rescission form that is available from the Vital Records Office at the Department of Health. This should be done within 60 days of the time the signatures on the AOP were notarized. If someone else is later discovered to be the biological father, either the mother or the man can request the court to remove his name from the child’s birth certificate.

If confusion persists about the paternity of a child, the parents can request a genetic test. Because such DNA testing can be complicated, the parents are better off consulting a legal professional before taking any step to establish or disestablish paternity.

Source: DFA.Arkansas.gov, “Paternity,” accessed on June 3, 2015


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