If you are an unmarried Missouri parent and you believe you either fathered a child, or that a certain man fathered your child, you may have reason to want to determine paternity. Maybe you believe you are a father, but the mother of the child in question disputes your claim, or maybe you know a certain man fathered your child and you want him to pay child support, but he refuses. Regardless of your reasoning for wanting to determine paternity, the process involved in doing so remains similar.
According to the Missouri Department of Social Services, arguably the simplest way to establish legal paternity is for both parents to sign an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity at the hospital at the time of the infant’s birth. However, if you and the other parent agree about paternity, but the two of you do not sign the affidavit at the hospital, you can typically still do so later. Instead of signing the affidavit at the hospital, you can do so with the help of either Missouri’s Family Support Division or the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ Bureau or Vital Records.
If there is disagreement or uncertainty surrounding the paternity of a particular child, either parent can request the assistance of the Family Support Division in conducting a genetic test. If the genetic test results reveal that the father is 98 percent or more likely to be the child’s father, he becomes the child’s legal father in the eyes of the law.
Establishing paternity offers numerous benefits for the child. In addition to giving him or her more knowledge about medical history, knowing who his or her father is can benefit a child tremendously in both a financial and emotional sense.
This information about establishing paternity in Missouri is informational in nature and does not constitute legal advice.