Reviewing Missouri’s paternity establishment processes

The word “paternity” is often only used in a negative context. Most associate it with action meant to prove that one in Lee’s Summit who is claiming to not be a child’s father actually is. Yet there may also be cases where men wanting to be recognized as a child’s father would want to have their paternity established. Fortunately, the state has created guidelines to help assign paternity in either case. 

Per Section 210.822 of Missouri’s Public Health and Welfare Code, paternity is presumed in any of the following cases: 

  • When a man and a child’s biological mother are married when the child is born (or if the child is born within 300 days of a couple’s divorce or annulment)
  • When a man and a child’s biological mother attempt to marry before or after the child’s birth, and the man willingly agrees to assume paternity 
  • When a blood test produces a result of 98 percent probability (or higher) that the test subject is the child’s father

Men can also be assigned paternity without having to go through legal proceedings. This can be done by acknowledging paternity (in writing), or by signing a child’s birth certificate or an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity at the time of a child’s birth. 

Some might question when (if ever) it might be advantageous for a man to acknowledge paternity (or request that he be given such a responsibility). The Office of the State Courts Administrator for Missouri states that doing so allows a man additional involvement in the life a child. This includes being granted the right to frequent, significant contact with the child, and to have a say in any hearing seeking to terminate his parental rights. 


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