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The significance of paternity and fathers' rights

Many of our Missouri readers may not know a great deal about paternity suits and unmarried fathers. Although published material may provide a lot of information about paternity, it may not provide the whole story because paternity does not only revolve around legalizing the relationship of a father to the child but also concerns the rights of a father when it comes to his children.

In Missouri, paternity may be a small part of family law cases. Compared to the way it was in the past, it seems that more fathers today want to participate in their child's life and it is important for fathers to establish their paternity and their rights. Establishing paternity may solidify the obligation of the father toward the child with issues such as paying child support, visitation rights and child custody. For married fathers whose paternity is already established, their rights enable them to fight for custody of their child.

In many divorce cases the court's decision may favor the mother when considering the best interests of the child. Mothers are often the primary caretaker while the father is the main financial provider of the family. But, fathers should have a chance to gain custody of their child if the divorcing parents are both working.

The court may ultimately decide, but each parent's involvement and how well they participate in the child's life can impact decisions. When it comes to parenting, school activities and doctor appointments, both parents' participation may be good for the child. This may also emphasize that fathers are capable and appropriate to raise a child and to be an effective co-parent.

When establishing paternity, a father should exercise his rights toward the child. If a father is trying to establish his parental rights, paternity is critical and getting the best information available will help a great deal.

Source: Huffington Post, "Father's Rights In Divorce: Myths and Facts," Natalie Gregg, March 22, 2013

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Joseph J. Porzenski
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