Parenthood is one of the biggest commitments an individual can make and also one of the most life-changing experiences possible. New parents may find motivation to go back to school or develop their careers. They may change their family situations and living circumstances because they recognize that the status quo is not the ideal for their child.
Parents often sacrifice for their children to give them the best future possible, but it can be more of a challenge to fulfill a parental role for some parents in Missouri. The law in Missouri theoretically grants fathers and mothers the same rights and responsibilities. Yet, fathers may need to establish paternity to make use of those rights. These are the three most common means of establishing paternity as a Missouri father.
In Missouri, there is a presumption of paternity for married couples. Men married to the mother of a child are the presumptive father of that child at the time of its birth. This rule even applies to men who separate from their wives during pregnancy. Generally, married men do not need to take any special steps to have their paternity acknowledged by the states, as the inclusion of their name on the birth certificate is usually automatic.
Through voluntary acknowledgment
Plenty of couples choose to have children without marrying first, and the father can very easily work with the mother to add his name to the birth certificate. The mother and father can execute an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity at the hospital together or submit the paperwork to the state while the child is still a minor to have the father’s name added to the birth certificate.
Through genetic testing
Sometimes, there are questions about who is actually the father of the child or the mother refuses to acknowledge the father. In scenarios where there is uncertainty or contention around the establishment of paternity, it may be necessary to involve the Missouri family courts. A judge can order paternity testing, which can very quickly validate or invalidate a man’s claim of having a genetic relationship with a child. After testing, the father can have his name added to the birth certificate and can request other parental rights, such as parenting time.
Understanding the options for establishing paternity can make it easier for a man to play an active role in the life of his child. With that said, many dads benefit from seeking legal guidance as they attempt to establish paternity successfully and there is certainly no shame in that.