Paternity actions establish custody rights and financial obligations in cases where the parents were not married at the time of a child’s birth. The actions can only be brought by those with standing, and proper jurisdiction. Oftentimes, this includes mothers seeking child support and alleged fathers seeking visitation or custody rights of children. In addition, prosecutors seeking to establish paternity to establish support and reimbursement public assistance provided to children. If you are filing paternity actions, what do you need to know?
Here are some necessaries for paternity actions:
Paternity, meaning fatherhood, can be established through a lawsuit initated by either parent or the Missouri Family Support Division through a local prosecutor. A voluntary consent of fatherhood can be filed as an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity in the hospital where the child was born. Although, this does not establish custody, visitation, nor support
Custody, visitation, and support are often established by filing a Petition requesting the relief you are seeking. If you are considering a dissolution and had any of your children prior to the marriage, you are required to file a Paternity Action to establish custody, visitation, and/or child support for the children born outside of the marriage.
Establishing paternity can influence various factors, including:
- Child support
- Child custody
- Visitation rights
- Health insurance benefits
- Social Security benefits
If paternity is being disputed, DNA testing may be court ordered. If there is not a dispute of about paternity, DNA testing will not be required. Once paternity is established, both parents can request significant contact with the child, that the other provide child support, and a right to a court hearing about certain issues related to the minor child such as petitions for termination of parental rights or adoption of the child.
Determining the proper jurisdiction and venue for a paternity action can be complicated. Once a party files a Complaint to Establish Paternity, the non-filing party has a limited time to respond or point out fault with the filing after being served. Generally, there are 3 types of responses. Some defenses may be waived if they are not waived if you do not plea them properly or plead in your initial responsive filing, so be sure to consult an attorney if you are unsure how to respond.
The genetic test uses a cheek swab to compare your DNA to the child’s DNA. In the state of Missouri, the DNA must be a 98% match for the court to acknowledge legal paternity. If the alleged father is found to be the biological parent, the court will typically order him to pay for the DNA test. However, if the alleged father is not the biological parent, the court will generally order the mother to pay for the test.
Call Our St. Louis County Family Law Attorneys Today at (314) 309-2377
At Coulter Lambson, we passionately represent clients in paternity lawsuits. Whether you are a mother seeking child support, or a father wanting a relationship with your child, we can discuss your options and provide knowledgeable legal assistance. Our firm has guided hundreds of clients through the complicated divorce and family law system in Missouri. With our compassionate, diligent services, you can receive the legal help you need for your case.
Contact our office today for a free consultation.