Paternity in Oregon means establishing through a legal action, called a filiation, that a man who was not married to the mother of a child at the child’s birth is the legal father of that child. Establishing paternity is a significant event for all the parties involved for once paternity is established, the legal father gains rights related to custody and visitation, but also incurs legal obligations related to the support of the child; the child gains the right to inherit from the legal father and receive governmental benefits based on his earnings.
Paternity in Oregon can be established in several ways. First, if a child is born during marriage, the husband is presumed to be the legal father. Second, if a child is born within 300 days of the termination of a marriage by death, annulment, divorce, or legal separation, the husband is presumed to be the father. Third, if a child is born to unwed parents but the parents later marry, the parents can both sign a notarized “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity” form which is then filed with the State of Oregon. Fourth, if an unmarried father agrees to paternity both parents can sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity” either at the time the child is born or shortly thereafter. The father’s name is then added to the birth certificate. Oregon also honors a voluntary acknowledgment created in another state.
When there is no agreement on paternity, either the mother, the father or the State of Oregon can establish paternity through filing a court proceeding, called a filiation. A person filing the petition is the “Petitioner.” The Filiation may be initiated when a child has been born out of wedlock or when a woman is pregnant with a child who may be born out of wedlock. As used in the filiation statutes, the term child born out of wedlock means “a child born to an unmarried woman or to a married woman by a man other than her husband.” The “Respondent” is one or more persons who may be the father of the child born out of wedlock, the husband of a woman who has or may have had a child born out of wedlock, the mother of a child born out of wedlock, the woman pregnant with a child who may be born out of wedlock, or the duly appointed and acting guardian of the child or conservator of a child’s estate.
In a paternity action in Oregon, often called a filiation, blood or DNA testing is most often used to conclusively determine paternity. In most cases, blood or DNA testing will ordered by the court and state how likely it is that a party is or is not the father of a child. If the test reflects paternity to a 99%+ certainty, then paternity is presumed and the court will enter a judgment reflecting those findings. In some circumstances, paternity can also be proven in court by documentary and testimonial evidence.
This can be a complicated area of the law. For more information, please contact a Bend family law attorney at Baxter Harder, LLC.