The purpose of a paternity case is to legally establish the father of a child born out of wedlock. To determine paternity, a simple DNA lab test is needed.
Once the court finds that a particular person is the father of a child born out of wedlock, the man will have the same parental rights and obligations to the child as if the child had been born to married parents. For example, a parenting plan will be required identifying the custody rights of both father and mother. The court will also determine how much child support, if any, one parent will have to pay to the other.
Paternity cases are important to moms and dads alike. For mothers, it can pave the way for obtaining financial support for the benefit of the child. For fathers, it can be the catalyst for making sure that he is significantly involved with raising his child.
In fact, some would argue that a paternity case is most valuable to dads because it is the only mechanism a man has for legally establishing and enforcing his custody rights as a father. Mothers, on the other hand, can obtain a legally-binding child support order, without having to file an action with the court, through Missouri’s Child Support Enforcement Agency. And, while this agency has the authority to issue support orders and collect on them, it cannot issue or enforce custody orders.