Living in an area where so many people are friendly and personable, like Oakville, MO, means that sometimes your private life may be open to public viewing and this may seem humiliating at times. This is especially true if you have to fight to prove that someone in the same area is the biological father of your child but is not standing up to the responsibility or if you want to protect yourself by ensuring you really are the father and have legal say in the child’s upbringing.
While it may seem embarrassing to put this out in public, all parties involved have the right to know the truth and then participate in an arrangement that offers support and care over the long term. You may not be aware of what rights are at stake or how to address paternity through the legal system. At Bardol Law Firm, LLC, we have been helping with legitimation by providing paternity answers and counsel for numerous mothers and fathers involved in such a dilemma.
Reasons for Establishing Paternity
Beyond just knowing who the parents are and getting emotional and financial support for the child, including a parental relationship and access to money and health insurance benefits, there are other advantages to establishing paternity. The child can then have a claim to the father’s assets and government benefits should the father die, such as Social Security and Vet benefits as well as assets from his estate.
Another advantage is that it helps to know the medical history of the father to assess if any of these may have been passed on or to just know the blood type for any procedures in the future.
Establishing Paternity in Oakville, Missouri
In Missouri, there are numerous steps to take to establish paternity. Here’s what you need to know and think about if you are faced with the task of legitimation.
- DNA Paternity Testing: DNA paternity testing is the scientific method that proves biological parents beyond a shadow of a doubt. The testing is a simple procedure that only involves a quick swab of the father’s cheek tissue, which is then tested against the child to identify if there is a DNA match. Either parent can request DNA paternity testing to prove or rule out biological connection to that child in question. The Missouri Family Services Division offers this testing, and it may even be possible to have it paid for by the state. Genetic testing is not always required but is available for those cases where no other agreements can be made between both parties as to biological connections between them and the child.
- Voluntarily Agree to Parental Responsibility: Depending on your individual situation, you may be able to complete the establishment of paternity on a volunteer basis if the potential father agrees. A child’s father can ensure that his paternity is confirmed by filing an affidavit to say he is the father, placing his name on the child’s birth certificate, financially supporting the child, and spending time with that child.
- Court Case: However, in many situations where the child has been born out of wedlock or the prospective parents have other spouses, the potential father may not be as willing to get involved. If this is the case, then you can proceed with filing a paternity suit in court. A paternity case may be filed in the county circuit court where the child, mother, or person believed to be the father lives. If the paternity case involves a potential father who is now deceased, the court case is taken up in the county where his estate is being settled. A paternity case can be filed any time before the child turns 18, while the child has until the age of 21 to request legitimization. A circuit court judge hears the case, decides on ordering genetic testing, and makes a decision, including whether the case should also include mediation. Once paternity is confirmed by affidavit or court order, then the father’s name is added to the child’s birth certificate. There are very few cases where appeals are heard, meaning the judge’s decision tends to be the final say on the matter.
- Other Legal Issues: Although a paternity case decides the legal relationship between the child and parents, decrees a new birth certificate should the father be identified and a name change is necessary, and sets an amount for child support, it does not necessarily include decision about custody and visitation. A parent can request an order for custody and visitation and then a parenting plan is established.
Making Decisions in the Best Interest of the Child
Establishing paternity can be an emotional experience with both parents having their own opinion about how it should be settled. There are also situations where other issues are involved, including domestic and child abuse, which further complicate the situation. What is important to remember that a child is at the core of the matter, including their emotional and physical well-being. It is about what is best for them so it is important to keep that focus throughout the process whether you are fighting to prove someone is the father or demanding that you be involved in your child’s life.
As an Oakville paternity lawyer in Missouri who has participated in all types of paternity cases, my job is to help ensure that the child’s interests are always at the core of what we do while also protecting the rights of the parents involved. With deep knowledge of Missouri paternity law and numerous experiences in court, my focus is to apply what I know to each unique case and help minimize the emotions involved while achieving a plan that works for the child and their parents.
Assisting You with Establishing Paternity
If you have more questions about establishing paternity related to general information or the specifics of your own case or are looking to hire a seasoned paternity lawyer, contact Stephen Bardol at the Bardol Law Firm, LLC. Our legal team will be happy to provide a consultation to address your concerns or provide guidance on how to get started on this important family issue. Contact us today so you can create a heritage for your child as well as get the emotional and financial support you and your child need without the public drama.