ATTN: Fathers of children not born to mothers to whom you did not marry (who many of you, unfortunately and derogatorily refer to as 'baby-momas').
You have NO automatic legal rights to custody/visitation/time to these children until your rights have been established. They don't establish themselves. They need YOU to take initiative to file a civil paternity action in the district Court located in the county where the child resides, something you should do through an attorney.
Even if you're already paying child support through DHS, that affords you no automatic right to spend time with your child. Those DHS child support cases only deal with issues of (1) legal paternity, i.e., who's the dad, and (2) child support. They do NOT deal with (a) who gets to claim the child as a dependent on income taxes, (b) child-care and medical expenses relating to the child, unless DHS is involved in paying for some of those childcare or medical services, (c) how often you get to see and be with your child, (d) where the exchange happens, i.e., how you get and give back the child, or (e) any conditions in regard to your or the other parent's time with the child, i.e., certain inappropriate persons the child cannot be around.
Hey, if you're getting to see your kid enough that is satisfactory to you, fine. But if you're getting told NO and NO and NO again, or you aren't being allowed to keep your child overnight ever, you need to know that that's not normal stuff; and regardless of the age of the child, such a scenario is typically not the outcome on these kinds of court cases unless the child would be in an unfit or unsafe environment. Now perhaps you would like to do something about it, but you just can't afford to pay to do something about it. For your child, how can you NOT afford to do something about it, especially if you're already paying child support.
I've been doing these kinds of cases, called civil paternity cases, along with divorce and other family-law cases for almost 20 years; and even I currently only charge a $1,250 upfront retainer in most cases. And more often than not, the upfront retainer is all you end up spending. Anyhow, you would probably get that money back and more the first time you got to claim your child on income taxes; but, more importantly, you will get to spend quality time and be involved in the raising of your child.
So if you're getting blown off and ignored, and you want to be able to see your child; or if you've been relegated to the position of every-other-weekend dad and you would rather have your child with you as much as the other parent, contact me and will see about correcting that situation. I would be happy to answer any questions you have.
Trust me....Children can grow up quickly. Be part of their experience.
I have both an office on main street in Collinsville as well as an office on the south-side of downtown Tulsa.
Joel K. Mitchell, Attorney-at-Law
MITCHELL LAW OFFICE, P.C.
1318 W Main St in Collinsville
& 1408 S Denver Ave in Tulsa
E-mail or Call (918) 230-5844
Joel K. Mitchell, Attorney