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Understanding your paternity rights in Missouri

In St. Charles County, Missouri, and throughout the country, if a child is born to an unmarried couple, the child does not have a legal father. A biological father must first establish paternity, at which time, the father's name will be included on the child's birth certificate. Establishing paternity is also important for a father to be able to include his child under his health insurance plan, as well as for Social Security and Veterans benefits in the event of the father dying or becoming disabled.

Establishing paternity is not always easy, especially if the mother resists acknowledging the child's father or if the father is not known by the mother. Paternity can be established at the hospital where the child was born by having both the mother and father sign an affidavit acknowledging paternity. Once the affidavit is signed, the birth certificate will include the father's name.

If there is a question as to who the biological father is, a paternity test may be done. Traditionally, this requires a swipe from a cotton swab to the inside cheek of both the father and the mother. This sample is then taken to a laboratory, where they can determine if the gentleman is the true biological father. There currently is a 98 percent probability that the test results are accurate. Missouri also recognizes the test results to determine the presumed father.

Paternity rights have taken leaps and bounds over the past few decades, and fathers are finally obtaining the rights they deserve. If you find yourself in a dispute regarding your paternal rights, it may be helpful to seek the knowledge and support from a legal professional.

Source: MO.gov, "Does Your Child Have A Legal Father? Paternity information for moms and dads," accessed on March 10, 2015

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Joseph J. Porzenski
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