Fathers and presumed fathers: know your rights

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in child support on Monday, June 6, 2016.

Becoming a father can be one of the greatest experiences in a man’s life, and that experience comes with great responsibility men must take seriously. For instance, fathers will be expected to provide for their child physically, emotionally and/or financially. These expectations are addressed and protected by state child custody and child support laws.

However, there are many situations in which a man is presumed to be the father of child and held to these responsibilities even though he is not actually a child’s biological father. For example, you will automatically be named as a child’s legal father if you are or were recently married to your child’s mother.

According to Missouri paternity laws, if a child is born while you are married to the mother or in the 300 days after your marriage has ended, you will the presumed father.

This makes sense for the majority of situations in which there are no questions about the biological connection between a husband and a child. However, imagine your wife cheated on you or started an intimate relationship with someone else before your divorce was finalized. You could still be named as the father even if the child is actually someone else’s.

This has two significant implications:

  1. You could find yourself fighting a losing battle for custody of a child to which you have no legal right.
  2. You could be ordered to pay child support for a child that is not yours.

In order to avoid these two scenarios, and to make sure the proper man is named as a child’s father, establishing or confirming paternity when it is in question can be essential. This can involve court orders, signed paternity forms, termination of parental rights and/or genetic testing. The method will depend on the specifics of your situation, and it can prove to be a very complicated, frustrating process.

If you have concerns or questions about confirming or challenging your biological relationship to a child, it can be crucial that you discuss your case with an attorney. Doing so will clear up any confusion and help you protect your rights.

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