Unmarried parents, paternity, grandparents

Unmarried parents

When you become a parent you automatically have both rights and responsibilities under the law, regardless of whether or not you are married.

You have a right to spend time with your child even if you do not have custody. If you are suspected of using drugs, you can be required to submit to drug testing at any time.  Drug use, abusive behavior and undue conflict can all make access to your child more difficult.

Whether or not you see the child, you are still responsible for making support payments if the custodial parent files a Petition for Child Support.  In some cases parents separate even before the birth, and the mother may not seek support. However, if she receives public assistance or uses the Oregon Health Plan, the state will require that you pay support if paternity is established.

If a mother fails to establish paternity and seek support after the child is born, it is more difficult to do later.  If she voluntarily waives support, she will not be able to collect it retroactively.

Legally establishing paternity

Either a mother or father can file a Petition for Paternity.  Paternity is established using a simple DNA test.  Paternity testing can be requested at any time by either side.

If the mother has custody and is receiving public assistance rather than relying upon child support, the State of Oregon can force paternity testing and enforce child support obligations.

Grandparent rights

Grandparents may be granted visitation rights after paternity is established. Increasingly, grandparents are becoming the primary care providers for children when parents are unable or unwilling to provide for and protect their children.  Grandparents who are awarded legal custody are entitled to receive child support.