Custody and visitation rights for unwed biological fathers

Mens divorce lawyerQuestion:

I am married and recently found out through a paternity test that I am the biological father of another woman’s child. I pay child support though I have never seen my son.

Is there any way to file for visitation rights so I can at least meet my son? He lives in Missouri and we live in Iowa so is that even possible?

Ultimately, I want a relationship with this child, and I want him to know his family.


When one parent is unaware that he has produced a child with another person, it is definitely difficult to fight for rights to custody and visitation. Clearly you were caught off guard that you had a son with this woman. Once you found out, you began paying child support.  Naturally, you want to see your son.

Unwed parents generally need to utilize the family court system to establish paternity and set up an order regarding custody and visitation. Since the child and his mother reside in Missouri, you will need to use the Missouri court system.

In your situation, you have already established that you are the biological father through a paternity test. If you were to file a Motion in Circuit Court to determine paternity, visitation and modify child support, then you will be able to visit your son.

Of course, it is difficult to conduct visitation when you currently reside in Iowa and your son resides in Missouri. Since you have never met your son, I suspect the court will not automatically grant overnight visitation. Likely, you will need to come to Missouri to conduct visits.

Please understand that my opinions are based upon the limited facts that you provided to me. For a more in depth discussion of your legal rights, I urge you to contact an Attorney immediately.

Cordell & Cordell has well qualified and experienced men’s divorce lawyers nationwide if you require additional legal assistance.


Michelle Hughes is an Associate Attorney in the Jefferson County, Missouri office of Cordell & Cordell where she practices domestic relations exclusively. Ms. Hughes is licensed in the states of Missouri and Illinois, and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. A native to metro St. Louis, Ms. Hughes received her BBA in Economics and Finances from McKendree College. She later received her Juris Doctor from Thomas Cooley Law School where she graduated cum laude.

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2 comments on “Custody and visitation rights for unwed biological fathers

    I had a loving bonding relationship with my son and his mom until the mom’s dad took both my son and girlfriend from me because she separated from her husband and is getting a divorce.

    Now I am a biological dad and have not seen my son for months.

    what can I do besides establishing a paternity or visitation rights?

    shared parenting for unemployed biological father
    what can i do im trying to get shaerd parenting of my daughter and the mother is unfit but im unemployed.what can i do to be apart of her life?the mother keep acting unfair hen i do see her and things have only been declining.i want to be ready when i have to go to court

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