Paternity or Non-Paternity

Paternity

The purpose of any paternity case is to legally determine and establish the father of
any child born outside of wedlock. These actions can be brought by either the mother
or father of the child and are necessary for the establishment of legal rights as to
child custody, visitation and child support obligations. Establishing paternity can be
accomplished a number of ways including: the father voluntarily executing an affidavit
of paternity, by the Missouri Family Support Division, or through a paternity action in
Missouri courts. If either parent challenges paternity the courts will likely order a genetic
test using DNA methodology to determine the father.

Without the establishment of paternity the father of a child will not have the same
parental rights or obligations and the mother will not have the ability to seek financial
contributions from the child’s father. Within a paternity action Missouri courts determine
child custody, visitation between the child and parents, as well as child support and other
financial obligations. Whether you are the mother or father there are many complex and
diverse legal situations that arise with paternity cases and it is important that you contact
our office to discuss your rights and responsibilities.

Declaration of Non-Paternity

Under Missouri law any father can file a Petition for Declaration of Non-Paternity
seeking Missouri courts to issue a judgment stating he is not the father of a child as
determined by an existing judgment. Typically this is accomplished with genetic
paternity testing using DNA methodology. With a Declaration of Non-Paternity there
are also important rights that could be attached to your case including: setting aside
the previous paternity judgment; extinguishment of existing child support arrearages
(for that specific child); removal of the father’s name from the child’s birth certificate;
expungement or arrest(s) or conviction(s) for criminal non-support offenses related to
that child. Unfortunately the father does not have a right for reimbursement for any
moneys previously paid pursuant to the original judgment. Additionally a declaration of
non-paternity does not grant relief to the parent of any adopted child.

Important Time Deadlines

Declarations of non-paternity can be filed if a judgment or judgments have been
entered against you for paternity of a child. The petition for declaration of non-
paternity can be filed prior to December 31, 2011. After December 31, 2011 the
declaration of non-paternity must be filed within two (2) years of the entry of the
original judgment of paternity and child support or within two (2) years of the
entry of a support order. It is imperative that you contact an attorney prior to this
date to determine your legal rights and if this statute applies to your case.

There are important time deadlines that apply to the filing Non-Paternity Declarations.
Given the numerous legal rights and questions that may arise is it important that you
consult an experienced lawyer immediately to discuss your rights with this area of family
law.