Experienced Paternity Lawyers in St. Louis
In a legal context, paternity may be defined as the state of being someone’s father. Paternity cases serve to establish the legal status of biological parents not married to each other when the child was born. They may be filed by either the mother or the father of the child, or even by the child in some cases.
If you are dealing with a paternity matter, our experienced St. Louis family lawyers at Rogers Sevastianos & Bante, LLP can help. We will work directly with you as our client, fully inform you of your rights and options, and explain and move through the legal process with you.
What Is Established in a Paternity Case?
Paternity cases can be brought by either the mother or the father to establish paternity of the child, along with the legal rights and obligations that entails. When the person identified by the mother as the father of the child denies parentage, he may be compelled by the court to submit to DNA testing to make that determination. This also lays the groundwork for child support and visitation in many cases. A father who wants to establish paternity when the mother has denied it may also file a paternity suit.
In a parentage case, the court:
- Decides the legal relationship between the child and each parent
- Orders a new birth certificate
- Sets the amount of child support
Custody and visitation are not automatically considered part of the case. They may be included if a parent requests that the court enter a custody and visitation order. If asked to do so, the court will issue a parenting plan, which states which parent will be responsible for decision making and the child, and how disputes between the parents will be decided.
Is DNA Testing Always Required in a Paternity Case?
DNA testing is not required when both parties admit that they are the child’s biological parents. A party who admits to being the biological father of the child born to unmarried parents is known as an acknowledged father.
What Are the Legal Consequences of Paternity Determination?
Whether it is established voluntarily or involuntarily, paternity has legal consequences for the mother, the father, and the child.
- Father: Once legally established as a child’s father, a man can be held legally accountable for support and responsibility. He also gains custody and visitation rights.
- Mother: A paternity determination secures financial support from the father. It may also mean shared custody and allowance of visitation time.
- Child: Paternity determination secures for the child a source of financial support from the father, along with the emotional benefit of knowing one’s father. The child gains a number of other rights, including: the right to receive shelter and aid from the father; the right to inherit; the right to access information about paternal family health risks; the right to sue for wrongful death of the father; the right to receive workers’ compensation death benefits for the father or other dependent-based government assistance.
Paternity cases can be complicated. Schedule a consultation at Rogers Sevastianos & Bante, LLP if you are a mother, father, or child seeking to legally establish paternity. Our skilled St. Louis paternity attorneys can guide you through the process while protecting your rights and advocating for your best interests.