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Establishing paternity, access to a father's rights

The issue of paternity may not concern St. Charles fathers who were married when their child was born and are now getting divorced. However, unmarried fathers or those who have yet to establish their paternity have something in common with divorced fathers, which is fathers' rights.

The legal rights of the father in Missouri generally involve child custody, visitation rights and parenting time. In a divorce, a father may become the non-custodial parent and live away from his children. Because of this, the father usually has limited opportunities to spend quality time with his children and watch them grow up. However, fathers with part-time custody of their children can still make every moment count.

During custody and visitation time, the first priority for the father is to find activities that both he and his children can enjoy. Fathers and their children may have fun together just sitting around the dinner table. Mealtime may be a fun time for anyone, where the non-custodial parent and his children can joke around, have a conversation and laugh. They may play board games or they may watch movies together at home. Those kinds of activities may be simple but may offer wonderful memories between the father and his children.

Although parents want to spend time with their children, unmarried fathers may not be able to enjoy time with their children without establishing paternity. Paternity determines the legal relationship of the father to the child. Establishing paternity may permit an unmarried father to acquire child visitation rights and other parental rights of the children, including supporting them financially.

The legal significance of paternity does not only revolve around visitation and parenting time exclusively. It may also address the financial security of the child and the rights of the father to seek custody. More importantly, it may provide emotional and psychological support for the child.

Source: Babble, "3 Tips From a Divorced Dad: Being a Full Time Father in the Face of Part Time Custody," Frank Matijevich, July 30, 2013

Joseph J. Porzenski
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