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How paternity is established in Missouri

53144879_S.jpgIn the state of Missouri, paternity is generally established in hospitals shortly after children are born. Unmarried parents do this by voluntarily declaring paternity in documents known as Affidavits Acknowledging Paternity. When these forms have been properly completed and signed, paternity is established and the father's name is placed on the child's birth certificate. The mother's name is placed on the birth certificate even if no Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity is completed.

Parents who fail to file an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity when their children are born should contact the Bureau of Vital Records of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services for assistance. This is particularly important for single mothers as paternity must be established before courts will issue child support orders. The BVR can also help mothers to obtain orders that establish paternity.

Establishing paternity can become especially contentious when the mother is married, but not to the child's father. In these situations, the Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity must be accompanied by a document known as a Husband's Denial of Paternity. Both the mother and her husband must sign this form, and this can be a problem if the couple is estranged and the whereabouts of the husband are unknown. The Child Support Services unit of the Missouri Department of Social Services offers assistance to mothers in these situations.

Experienced family law attorneys could provide assistance in this area by explaining the steps involved in getting a father's name listed on a child's birth certificate and how parents can go about obtaining paternity tests. While the results of these tests are generally regarded as conclusive scientific evidence, they may be disputed in certain situations. Attorneys could challenge paternity test results when the samples used may have been tampered or interfered with in some way or the integrity of a lab technician could have been compromised.

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