Over 40% of children born in Missouri are born to parents who are not married. We have a passion for ensuring that these children receive every right and opportunity afforded to kids born within an intact marriage and are committed to helping you fight to protect your rights.
In Missouri, paternity can be established in one of four ways:
- The parents can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form, which is filed with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services;
- Genetic testing can be performed to establish conclusive evidence of paternity;
- There is a presumption of paternity when the spouses are married at the time of the child’s birth or within 300 days after the marriage is terminated; and/or
- A court can issue an order.
A paternity action can be combined with a request to establish custody and child support for your child. Once paternity has been established, the court will use the same factors to determine child custody and child support as in a traditional divorce case, including:
- The wishes of the child’s parents as to custody and the proposed parenting plan submitted by both parties;
- The needs of the child for a frequent, continuing and meaningful relationship with both parents and the ability and willingness of parents to actively perform their functions as mother and father for the needs of the child;
- The interaction and interrelationship of the child with parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
- Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with the other parent;
- The child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school, and community;
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, including any history of abuse of any individuals involved. If the court finds that a pattern of domestic violence has occurred, and, if the court also finds that awarding custody to the abusive parent is in the best interest of the child, then the court shall enter written findings of fact and conclusions of law. Custody and visitation rights shall be ordered in a manner that best protects the child and any other child or children for whom the parent has custodial or visitation rights, and the parent or other family or household member who is the victim of domestic violence from any further harm;
- The intention of either parent to relocate the principal residence of the child; and
- The wishes of a child as to the child’s custodian.
No two paternity cases are the same. Having an attorney who understands and will engage with the nuances of your case is critical to achieving the outcome you want for you and your child. We have the litigation experience and knowledge necessary to help bring your case to a successful resolution.