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Divorce may introduce paternity issues

In divorce, parents in Missouri and elsewhere often deal with issues regarding child custody, child support and division of property. While parents work to resolve these issues, conflicts may arise from both parties. Children are affected most because of these conflicts. In some situations, like an ugly custody battle or where a father fights to exercise paternity rights, divorce may develop a relationship gap between father and child or worse, the father may neglect his responsibilities toward his children.

Missouri dads may know that the parents' responsibility is to look after the welfare of their children. There are instances, however, of fathers bailing on their obligations to their children because of stress and the expense of the family law process. Fathers often assume that when their children are old enough, the children may understand the situation.

However, the disappearance of a father from a child's life may perpetuate conflicts even after the child reaches adolescence. These children could develop feelings of confusion and anger toward their dad, which may also influence the father's life, especially if a new family is involved. All things considered, these matters can be avoided if the father complies with his responsibility to his kids.

Under the law, paternity is defined as the parental or legal established relationship between a man and a child. Establishing paternity may be done through a DNA or blood test. Also, whenever a child is born to a married couple, the husband or the father is granted a legal presumption of paternity.

Once a father's paternity is recognized, the father may acquire visitation rights and may be obligated to pay child support. It is important, however, that fathers understand the laws of their states regarding these issues. For example, in Missouri, the court can order the father to pay back child support from five years prior to the date of filing. Failure to comply with this and other general rules may bring further financial consequences.

Source: PE.com, "FAMILY: Divorce the spouse, not the kids," Mitchell Rosen, Oct. 15, 2012

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Joseph J. Porzenski
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