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What Rights Does a Father Have in Missouri?
The state of Missouri has laws to help preserve the bond between parents and their children, and also ensure the children get the support they need from their parents. Laws are also in place to help uphold a father’s parental rights especially when both parents are locked in a court battle.
Child custody, child support, and visitation can be ruled by a court following the establishment of paternity. Fathers of children born out of wedlock need to establish paternity because their visitation or full custody request may be denied until paternity has been proven.
How is paternity established in Missouri?
Either biological parent may file a petition to establish paternity in a Missouri court. The Missouri Family Support Division may also file a petition on behalf of the custodial parent.
The simplest way to prove that a man is the biological father of a child is for him to sign an affidavit acknowledging paternity at the hospital where the child is born. The mother who agrees to the facts of the child’s parentage must also sign these affidavits.
If there is any doubt as to whether a man is the real biological father, either party can request for DNA testing through a blood test. If the father is indigent and cannot afford the costs of a DNA testing, the costs of the test can be waived upon request and covered by the state.
Father’s child custody and visitation rights in Missouri
If paternity has been established and both parents are not living together, the father may seek child custody and visitation. Missouri courts deciding custody cases put the best interests of the child first into consideration.
Judges are guided by Missouri law when making child custody and visitation decisions. Some of the factors that should be considered during child custody cases include, but are not limited to:
- the health and welfare of the child
- the emotional needs of the child
- co-parenting skills of both parents
There are two forms of custody that must be considered by the court:
Legal custody – refers to a parent’s right to be involved in making significant decisions concerning the child’s general health, safety, and education.
Physical custody – refers to the length of time a child lives with or under the responsibility of one of the parents. Joint physical custody is also allowed even if one party opposes it as long as it serves the best interests of the child.
Both the mother and father are esteemed equally in child custody cases. This means neither parent has more advantage than the other at the start of the case. Fathers have the same right as mothers to legal and physical custody of their child. It is possible for a father to be awarded primary physical custody depending on certain factors involved in the case. This means that the father can care for his child for most of the time while the mother is given visitation rights. In cases like this, the mother would be the non-custodial parent.
Father’s child support rights in Missouri
The father will be likely granted child support when he is designated as the primary custodial parent. Child support is a financial payment received by the custodial parent from the non-custodial parent to help cover the costs of bringing up caring for the child. Child support payment is used to aid in paying for the child’s food, shelter, and clothing as well as help cover their educational and medical expenses.
A father’s rights lawyer can help
If you are going through a paternity action or child custody case in Missouri, hiring a St. Charles MO lawyer who has experience in father’s rights is vital.
An experienced lawyer can help you understand what your rights as a father are and ensure that they are upheld in court. We at Shea Kohl Law can help you secure a better outcome for your case so you can spend the time with your child that they deserve.
Call our office today at (636) 946-9999 for your free initial consultation. Any information you share with us will be kept confidential. Guaranteed.
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Shea Kohl Law, LC serves clients in Missouri including St. Charles, Troy and Lincoln and throughout Warren and St. Louis counties. We also serve clients in Illinois.