Menu Help & How To Video Simulation Game Document & Resources Training Link Tag Search clock thumbs-up angle-up

Paternity Establishment on Deprived Action Cases

The following article provides instruction for paternity actions on deprived cases. Oklahoma Statutes address establishing paternity for a child in Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) custody. Under 10A O.S. § 1‐4‐702, the deprived court is required to determine if paternity for a child in DHS custody has been established. If it has not, the court shall proceed to establish paternity or defer the issue to Child Support Services (CSS) to establish paternity.

The law also states that after a deprived court establishes paternity, it may set child support for a prior period. The court may also reserve or defer the issue of support for a prior period. The order establishing paternity must be a separate, non‐confidential order and may be used by CSS for establishing child support in an action other than the deprived proceeding in juvenile court. This means the paternity and child support orders are separate forms from the treatment plan for each parent and can be released to CSS.

Many Child Welfare (CW) workers have not received training in how paternity is established or the legal impact of a court order on the relationship of the parent to the child. When working with CW workers, be careful to review the legal status of the case before scheduling the parties for genetic testing or performing any other paternity establishment actions on a deprived action case. The CW worker may not be aware that paternity has already been established by marriage; through a properly executed Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) or that there is an existing order for support. The CW worker needs to be informed of this so they do not attempt to have genetic testing conducted. The CW worker may not realize the impact of establishing paternity for an alleged father when there is already a legal father in place.

The danger in having two legal fathers is that the person legally responsible for the child has not been identified. If only one legal father’s parental rights are terminated and the child is adopted, the other legal father could have the adoption vacated because his parental rights were not terminated. Also, avoid having the deprived court terminate parental rights of someone who has been excluded through genetic testing. This would be a termination of a right that did not exist, while the actual father has not been identified, thus placing the child’s adoption at risk.

Paternity may be established at any stage of the deprived action. Prior to May 2004, a paternity and/or child support order could not be entered prior to adjudication. That is no longer the case. The statute specifically states, “within six (6) months after the filing of a deprived petition, the court shall address the issue of child support or defer the issue of establishment or enforcement of child support to the appropriate administrative or district court.” The provisions of the Uniform Parentage Act in Title 10 are applicable for establishing paternity in deprived cases and are the statutory authority for doing so. Specifically Section 7700‐201(B) of Title 10 of the Oklahoma Statutes states paternity is established in the following ways:

  1. “An unrebutted presumption of the man’s paternity of the child under Section 8 of the Uniform Parentage Act;
  2. “An effective acknowledgment of paternity by the man under Article 3 of the Uniform Parentage Act, unless the acknowledgment has been timely rescinded or successfully challenged;
  3. “An adjudication of the man’s paternity;
  4. “An adoption of the child by the man; or
  5. “As otherwise provided by law.”

When a deprived judge orders genetic testing, that testing may be done by either child welfare or child support. Testing processes and procedures vary by county throughout the state. However, the statutory requirements for genetic testing that are used in “regular” establishment proceedings also apply to deprived cases.