Paternity Problems (Part 2)

By William Halaz

Attorney, Cordell & Cordell

Note: Click here to read Part 1, which addressed these questions:

  • What to do when a child is born during dissolution proceedings?
  • If the baby isn’t mine but is born during divorce proceedings before our divorce is official am I legally responsible?

What follows is a brief explanation of paternity laws in the state I practice in, Missouri, regarding the potential outcome of this nerve-wracking situation. This is not meant to cover every situation, and as each situation may produce a different outcome, you should speak with an attorney regarding how to proceed with your case. Also, laws in your state may be different, so you should speak with an attorney licensed in your own state to determine whether this information may apply to your case. Through the article, I will be referencing Missouri’s Revised Statutes (RSMO).

How do I prove I am/am not the father?           

So what type of evidence is available to determine the answer to this two-part test? Evidence of sexual intercourse between the mother and the alleged father during the possible time of conception of the child; an expert’s opinion concerning the probability of the alleged father’s paternity of the child based upon the duration of the mother’s pregnancy; blood test results, weighed in accordance with the evidence of the statistical probability of the alleged father’s paternity of the child; and medical or anthropological evidence relating to the alleged father’s paternity of the child based on tests performed by experts are all available to determine paternity.

Due to the fact that it has a conclusive effect by law in Missouri, a blood test is one of the “weightier considerations” used by the court. Also, due to popular perception, it is one of the more commonly requested ways to determine paternity.

 

Can I demand a DNA test? Can I be forced to take a DNA test?

Under Missouri law, the court may, on its own initiative, require any party to submit to blood tests. If any party requests a blood test, however, the court must require the child, mother, alleged father, any presumed father who is a party to the action, and any male witness who testifies or shall testify about his sexual relations with the mother at the possible time of conception, to submit to blood tests. (RSMO 210.834.1)

If a party refuses, they can be held in civil contempt of court and the fact that they refused is admissible as evidence in the paternity case. On top of the possibility of civil contempt and potentially damaging evidence, upon motion and reasonable notice to the party refusing to submit to blood tests, the court shall, except for good cause shown, enter an order striking the party’s pleadings and rendering a judgment by default on the issue of the existence of the parent-child relationship.

 

How do I get my name on/off a birth certificate? I do/don’t want the baby to have my last name so can I enforce that?

Within the judgment or order of the court, there are certain findings that must be made. Obviously, the court must determine the existence or nonexistence of the parent and child relationship. Also however, under RSMO 210.841.2, if the judgment or order of the court varies with the child’s birth certificate, the court is required to order that an amended birth registration be made. Therefore, if you are declared not to be the father of the child, the birth record will be amended to reflect that.

 

Note: Click here to read Part 1, which addressed these questions:

  • What to do when a child is born during dissolution proceedings?
  • If the baby isn’t mine but is born during divorce proceedings before our divorce is official am I legally responsible?

 

While this article addresses some of the issues that arise when a child is born during dissolution or divorce proceedings, you may have additional questions regarding your own specific situation. You should not rely on this article as establishing an attorney-client relationship, and you should contact an attorney in your area immediately if you need additional information or legal representation, as most parties in dissolution actions do.

 

Attorney William HalazWilliam Halaz is a Staff Attorney in the Arnold, Missouri office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. Mr. Halaz is licensed to practice in the state of Missouri. Mr. Halaz received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Southeast Missouri State University. Then continuing his education, received his Juris Doctor from St. Louis University’s School of Law.

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