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Establishing paternity when parents are unmarried

47942553_S.jpgIn Missouri, there are two ways for a father's paternity to be established if he is not married to the mother. Both parents can sign an Affidavit of Paternity, or the mother can get an order that establishes the man as the child's father. If the mother is married to someone who is not the father of the child, there are extra steps. If the husband is willing, he can sign a Husband's Denial of Paternity along with the child's mother. If the husband is unwilling or cannot be found, child support services may be able to assist the mother in obtaining an order to name the legal father.

In some cases, a mother may not be aware of the child's paternity. The mother can go through the Family Support Division to get free paternity testing through a cheek swab test.

Under Missouri law, a 98 percent probability establishes a man as the genetic father of a child. However, the additional legal step still must be taken of either filling out an Affidavit of Paternity or getting an order naming the father. It is necessary to establish paternity before a mother can begin collecting child support from the father.

Child support must be paid regularly, and if it is not, a parent's wages may be garnished or other penalties might be applied. The amount paid is based on income, and a parent who cannot pay because they have lost their job, have another child to support or for some other reason can apply to have the support amount modified. In the meantime, if the parent is not paying support, the back payments will continue to add up and may include interest until a court agrees to the modification. The parent will still owe this debt even if the modification is approved.

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