Paternity law plays a critical role in many aspects of family law, and its implications reach far beyond simply establishing the identity of a biological father. In this article, we delve into what paternity law is and how it works in the context of Missouri family law.

What is Paternity Law?

Paternity law refers to the legal principles governing the determination of a child's biological father. Establishing paternity has significant legal implications, affecting child custody, child support, inheritance rights, and access to family medical history.

Establishing Paternity in Missouri

In Missouri, there are several ways to establish paternity:

1. Presumption of Paternity: If a child is born during a marriage or within 300 days after its dissolution, the husband is presumed to be the father.

2. Voluntary Acknowledgment: Both parents can sign an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity to establish the father's legal paternity. This is often done at the hospital at the time of the child's birth.

3. Paternity Lawsuit: If there is a dispute regarding paternity, a party can file a paternity suit in a Missouri court. The court may order genetic testing to determine the biological father.

Implications of Paternity Law in Missouri

Child Support: Once paternity is established, the father has a legal obligation to provide financial support to the child until the child reaches the age of 18 or completes high school, whichever is later.

Custody and Visitation Rights: Legal paternity gives a father the right to seek custody or visitation arrangements. Missouri courts always prioritize the best interests of the child when making such decisions.

Inheritance Rights: A legally established father-child relationship ensures the child's rights to inherit from the father's estate.

Access to Medical Records: Knowing the identity of the biological father can provide essential genetic information necessary for a child's health and medical treatment.

The Role of a Family Law Attorney in Paternity Cases

Navigating paternity issues in Missouri can be complex. Retaining a skilled family law attorney can provide vital legal support, ensuring that your rights and interests are protected throughout the process.


Understanding paternity law is crucial for both mothers and potential fathers. Whether you're seeking to affirm your parental rights or are faced with a paternity lawsuit, gaining a firm grasp of Missouri paternity law can significantly influence the outcome of your case.