Custody issues can be complex, especially when the parents of the child are unmarried. In this blog post, we’ll explore how these issues are addressed, from determining biological paternity to establishing custody arrangements and child support. Paternity issues are now almost as common as divorce cases. Even couples who have been amicable for years may find themselves needing court intervention due to changing circumstances or a desire to formalize agreements for clarity.
Resolving Paternity Disputes
If the paternity of the child is in dispute, the court can order a DNA test. While the other party may consent or object, the court is likely to grant the request for a DNA test. The DNA testing process involves a mouth swab. All involved parties, including the mother, father, and the child will participate in the testing. If the mother refuses, the test can still proceed with just the child and father, albeit at a higher cost.
Once the court has a determination of paternity, either through a DNA test or mutual agreement, it can order the father to be put on the birth certificate. The case then becomes a regular child custody case. It will address factors such as parenting time, the child’s age, and developmental stage.
In paternity cases, child custody arrangements may not immediately involve overnights. This is especially true if the father has had no prior involvement. The court may start with shorter reunification visits. Based on the child’s age and developmental needs, custody arrangements will gradually increase the duration. The court ultimately considers the same factors as in divorce cases when determining custody arrangements.
Legal documentation is important. Even if parents get along well, it is recommended to have custody agreements drafted avoid any future misunderstandings. Having a judge sign off on an enforceable agreement ensures clarity. It can prevent potential conflicts regarding custody and parental responsibilities.
Paternity cases often lead to discussions about child support. It’s not mandatory, but a court order usually outlines financial responsibilities. This ensures both parents contribute to the child’s well-being.
Navigating paternity issues requires careful consideration. This includes DNA testing, custody arrangements, and child support. These matters should be addressed early, either through court proceedings or alternative methods. Doing so can provide clarity and stability for the child’s future.
Contact Family Ally
If you have questions or need legal assistance regarding paternity or any other family law matter, please contact Jennifer Piper at 314-449-9800 to schedule a consultation. Family Ally is located at 130 S. Bemiston Ave., Suite 608, St. Louis, MO 63105.