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A paternity case is a legal action to determine the father of a child. Establishing paternity is a necessary step to allow unmarried parents to gain legal rights to child custody, support, and visitation. A paternity action may be necessary if the child’s father will not voluntarily establish paternity, or the mother will not recognize the father.
If paternity is in question, an experienced attorney can guide you through the necessary steps to establish or contest custody, parenting time, or child support. At Cavanagh & Associates, we help clients with paternity matters in and around St. Louis, St. Charles, Chesterfield, and the surrounding communities. Led by Jack Cavanagh, a St. Louis paternity lawyer with well over 50 years of legal experience, we know how to effectively represent our clients’ interests in these often emotional and challenging cases.
How Is Paternity Established In Missouri?
Different states often have varying methods of establishing paternity. In Missouri, either of the biological parents can file a petition to establish paternity within state court or with the Missouri Family Support Division. Once this has been established, the opposing party (other biological parent) has 30 days to file an answer.
In Missouri, paternity may be established in two ways:
- Paternity can be established by DNA testing, but may not be necessary in all cases. It will be necessary if the identity of the biological father is unclear
- Paternity can also be determined by signing an affidavit acknowledging paternity in Missouri. This is the easiest method and can be done even if it was not signed at the time of the child's birth
How Long Does a Father Have to Establish Paternity in Missouri?
The Missouri paternity statute states that the father may establish paternity up until the child turns 18 years of age. The child has until the age of 21 to establish paternity themselves.
What Influence Does Paternity Have on Parental Rights & Responsibilities?
Paternity may influence one’s parental rights and responsibilities in various ways:
- Establishing paternity may grant a father the right to custody or parenting time with his child.
- Establishing paternity may grant a mother the right to pursue child support from the father.
- Challenging paternity may prevent a man from gaining custody or parenting time with a child.
- Challenging paternity may help a man avoid paying support for a child that is not his.
Interested in finding out more about paternity and how it may affect your parental rights and responsibilities? Call a St. Louis paternity attorney at (314) 309-2799 today.
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