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A brief overview of paternity and other related issues

Paternity issues often arise when there is a child born out of wedlock. In St. Charles, Missouri, readers often hear about paternity issues in cases in which the mother of the child seeks child support from the biological father of the child or the father seeks custody of the child who was born out of wedlock. Often, paternity can affect both child custody and child support issues, which is why it is important for both parents to fully understand the basics of paternity and other related issues.

Basically, paternity must be established in order for the man to be declared the legal father of the child. Both parents need to sign an affidavit acknowledging paternity at the hospital in which the child was born in order for the father to be listed as the legal father on the child's birth certificate. In some cases, genetic testing or DNA testing can be useful if there is uncertainty about the identity of the biological father of the child. If the laboratory results show a 98 percent probability or greater that the man is the biological father, he will be designated as the father of the child under Missouri law.

Either parent may request paternity testing with the help of the Family Support Division. However, the Bureau of Vital Records will not list the father as the legal father on the child's birth certificate based exclusively on the results of the paternity tests. The paternity process can only be completed by obtaining a court order or executing a paternity affidavit, which will direct the Bureau of Vital Records to update the child's birth certificate.

The bottom line is that paternity cases can be prolonged in a lengthy court battle if either or both parents are not willing to cooperate. Parents should note that it is their child who will benefit from the process and not the other way around.

Source: Mo.gov, "Does your child have a legal father? Paternity information for moms and dads," accessed on July 30, 2014

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