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Can a mother refuse paternity testing for a minor child?

On Behalf of | Mar 9, 2024 | Paternity |

The father of a child typically needs to establish paternity if he intends to seek shared custody or parenting time. Paternity for a child is often established right at the time of birth. In Missouri, there is a presumption of paternity when a married couple welcomes a new child to the family. The state usually includes the husband on the birth certificate as the father automatically when a married woman gives birth.

Unmarried couples do not have that same presumption of paternity, but they can very easily acknowledge the relationship that the man has with the child. If the parents are on good terms, the mother might sign documents adding the father to the birth certificate right at the hospital. The parents could also fill out voluntary paperwork at any point while the child is a minor.

Sometimes, the mother of a child does not wish to acknowledge the father and may refuse to facilitate his relationship with the child. Can she deny his relationship and refuse to present the child for paternity testing?

The courts can order genetic testing

There are free and relatively simple genetic tests available through state services when parents cooperate to establish paternity for a child. If the adults in the family do not cooperate, then the father may feel uncertain about his rights.

Many men give up some of their parental rights because they assume that the state favors the mother or that they cannot prove their relationship to the child without her support. Even in scenarios where a woman refuses to acknowledge a man’s relationship with a child, the putative father can take the matter to family court and request paternity testing.

The courts can order the mother to present the child for testing, and failing to do so might lead to legal consequences. Genetic testing is neither invasive nor traumatizing. It is also relatively accurate and reliable. If the test does affirm a man’s claim of parentage, he can ask to revise the birth certificate to include his name and can ask for shared custody rights.

A man who wants to play an active role in the lives of his child may need to learn more about Missouri rules on custody and paternity. As such, seeking to formally establish paternity is generally the first legal step toward playing an active role as a father.

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