How is paternity established in Missouri?

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Paternity/Child Support on Thursday, March 5, 2015.

Establishing the paternity of a child provides definite advantages and benefits to both the father and the child, including but not limited to eligibility of the father to petition for child custody and visitation in the event of a divorce and the child’s eligibility for Social Security benefits in the event of the father’s death. But how is paternity legally established?

In Missouri, the legal system provides multiple avenues to follow to determine with certainty who a child’s father is. The simplest method for unmarried parents is for both to complete and sign an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity. This is ordinarily accomplished at the hospital when the child is born, but can also be obtained later by contacting the state’s Family Support Division. Upon completion of the affidavit, the father’s name will be entered onto the child’s birth certificate.

In the event that the identity of the child’s biological father is uncertain, then either the mother or the putative father can request that DNA testing be done for free through the FSD. Paternity testing is simple to do, is highly reliable, and is accepted under Missouri law to establish paternity and to complete the Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity (the test alone will not result in the father’s name being placed on the birth certificate).

Lastly, in the event of disputed paternity in which either parent refuses to establish paternity cooperatively, it is possible to petition for a court order to have a paternity test performed. In this situation, or any other dispute that involves child custody, child support or parental rights, then in addition to working with the FSD obtaining the assistance of a law firm that practices in the area of Missouri family law can be helpful in resolving the underlying legal issues.

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