Fathers have a unique situation when they have a child. Nobody can deny who the mother is thanks to biology, but the father is not proven through biology in an obvious way. Having established paternity is very important. It gives you legal rights to your child. Without it, you could face serious issues with trying to be involved in your child’s life in Missouri.

First, it is important to know that if you and the mother are married when you child is born, you are automatically the legal father. The marriage seals the deal, so to speak. You do not have to do anything to prove paternity or seek legal rights as you have them the moment the baby is born.

If you are not married, you have no automatic fathers’ rights, according to the Missouri Courts. You must take legal steps to establish paternity.

If you and the mother agree that you are the father, the hospital will provide you with an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity. You will both sign it and the hospital will handle filing it.

If the mother will not sign the paper with you, then you can file a Declaration of Paternity with the Bureau of Vital Records. You may also get a court judgement that established paternity. This usually require a DNA test.

Do note that just putting your name on the birth certificate is not legally establishing your rights. In addition, paying child support also does not give you paternity rights. This information is for education and is not legal advice.