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Defining paternity in the state of Missouri

Although one may think it is fairly easy to determine who the father of a child is, from a legal perspective there are many characteristics that may be taken under consideration when there is a doubt about the father of a child. These considerations may be based on the relationship between man and woman at the time of the birth, and are not universally defined throughout the United States. With much on the line for all three parties -- the mother, father and especially the child -- it is important that all parties involved that paternity is established.

Thankfully, there are fairly quick and easy ways to determine paternity, even for unborn children who can have prenatal tests through fairly safe and easy procedures. The ease of paternity tests for children born but with an uncertainty of the paternal father, a simple and inexpensive DNA test can provide the answer.

In the state of Missouri, a child's father is presumed if the child is either born in the marriage with the natural mother or if the birth occurs "within 300 days after the marriage is terminated." But, for children born out of wedlock, there are additional few ways that a putative father can claim his paternity rights. This includes when a child is born in the process of a heterosexual couple planning to marry, or within 300 days of a marriage, when a minor child resides with a man who claims that the child is his biological child, when, through a court order or voluntary agreement supports the child or when the man acknowledges the child as his own in writing or with consents on the father's birth certificate.

Understanding the laws and the paternal rights of the father are important in maintaining a healthy relationship with the child and serves additional benefits to all parties down the road including the child's future inheritance rights.

Source: findlaw.com, "Legal Definition of 'Father' by State," Accessed on July 26, 2016

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Joseph J. Porzenski
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