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Melissa A. Featherston

Establishing paternity in Missouri: Why and how?

There are numerous reasons at to why establishing parentage is important to parents in Missouri. Establishing paternity is typical done for custodial or monetary reasons. Mothers often request paternity testing in order to seek child support, while potential fathers may wish to submit to testing in order to gain custody or visitation rights.

The state of Missouri believes that every child should be able to have relationships with both of his or her parents and that parents who desire relationships with their children should be given the opportunity. Unfortunately, if paternity is not established, this does not always happen. What does one have to do to legally establish paternity?

Paternity can be established through either DNA testing or volunteering parentage. DNA testing can be completed before or after a child is born, though after-birth testing is most common as it presents the fewest risks to the mother and child and is the least invasive course. DNA testing must be done at a court approved facility, and it can take 30 or more days for results to be delivered. Volunteering of parentage can be at any time after a child's birth. The father simply has to sign an affidavit of parentage and submit it to the court.

After paternity is established, custody and child support concerns can then be addressed -- though these things can take time to resolve. An experienced family law attorney can assist parents in Missouri with these matters. With help, it is possible for both parents to obtain legal orders that take into consideration what is best for them and their children.

Source: courts.mo.gov, "What Every Parent Should Know About Establishing Paternity", Accessed on Aug. 7, 2016

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