Practice Areas


Wendell L. Belknap
411 5th Street
Oregon City, OR 97045

Tel: 503-657-8946
Fax: 503-655-2775

Email Wendell



A child born in wedlock is rebuttably presumed to be the child of both parties. Of course, there is no such presumption when a child is born out of wedlock. When a child is born out of wedlock, establishing paternity is necessary in order to establish the rights and responsibilities of both the mother and the father. Until paternity is established, the biological father essentially has no rights, nor responsibilities.

Paternity can be established in two ways. The first way involves both the biological mother and father signing a written acknowledgment which must be witnessed and filed with the birth registrar for the State of Oregon (this written acknowledgment is commonly referred to as a Paternity Affidavit). This method is quick and easy, and most hospitals provide the necessary documents to complete this process at the time of the birth. When this method is used, the birth father’s name will be put on the birth certificate when it is issued.

The second way is used when either the biological mother or father disputes paternity or is otherwise unwilling to sign the Paternity Affidavit. When this happens, a judicial proceeding can be filed to establish paternity. Usually, as part of this judicial proceeding, the court will order that the parties submit to a DNA test. Thanks to this technology, paternity can be established with virtual certainty. And, of course, a man can also be excluded as a possible father of the child by this test, again with virtual certainty.

A putative (potential) father has the primary responsibility to protect his rights. If the mother will not sign the Paternity Affidavit, it is important for the biological father to file immediately a case to establish his paternity. If he fails to do so he risks that the mother will place the child for adoption without having to give notice to him. If he waits to file, an adoption could be completed and his rights as the father terminated before they are established.

When paternity is established, the Oregon courts have authority to determine custody and parenting time, to order either parent to pay past and future child support, and to require either party to pay for prenatal care, birth expenses, and postnatal care. These matters are not decided when paternity is established by signing the Paternity Affidavit or by an administrative proceeding through the State of Oregon. Rather, these issues will be established by the courts only if brought to the court’s attention and then reduced to a General Judgment.

I represent both men and women in paternity matters. Please feel free to contact my office if you would like to discuss a paternity issue.