On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Fathers’ Rights on Friday, August 14, 2015.
When a married couple has a child, the husband is presumed to be the biological father of the child. When a couple is not married and has a child, the process for establishing paternity is a bit more complicated. Under Missouri law, paternity can be established either voluntarily or involuntarily.
First, you should understand why establishing paternity is important. Paternity, which is the legal relationship between a father and a child, has significant implications for the child, mother, and father.
For the child, establishing paternity is important on an emotional level, as every child deserves to have a relationship with both parents. Paternity also ensures that the child is eligible to inherit from the father or receive benefits from him, such as social security and health insurance. From a mother’s perspective, establishing paternity is important because it creates a legal obligation for the father to financially support the child. Fathers, in turn, gain custody and visitation rights.
In Missouri, a father can establish paternity by signing something called a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity. In doing so, the father accepts all of the rights and responsibilities that come with raising a child, including visitation rights and the responsibility to provide financial support for the child.
A father can also initiate a voluntary paternity proceeding in court. There are a few reasons why a father may choose this route. For example, before paying child support, the father may want a judicial determination that he is the biological father. Or, the father may want a relationship with his child, but the mother is denying him access. The court can help resolve the dispute.
When a father is not willing to acknowledge paternity, the mother can bring a paternity action against him in court. The court may order the father to take a blood test or a DNA test to establish paternity. If paternity is established, the court can then order the father to pay child support.
Paternity can be a complicated issue. If you are a father seeking custody or visitation rights to your child, you should contact an experienced family law attorney. Without either a voluntary acknowledge of paternity or paternity order, a court may not recognize you as the legal father and give you the rights you deserve.
Source: Courts.mo.gov, “What Every Parent Should Know About Paternity,” Accessed Aug. 10, 2015