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Establishing Paternity Rights in Kansas and Missouri

For unmarried parents, establishing legal paternity rights is a two-step process. First, it must be established who is the biological father of the child. However, the determination of paternity alone does not grant any legal rights to the father. A paternity court action Esmust be filed for legal rights and obligations to be established for child custody, parenting time and payment of child support.

Some of the benefits of establishing paternity legal rights include the following:

1. If the father and mother do not live together, child support is typically necessary to meet the financial obligations for the

child;

2. The parents must work together to make medical, education, and religious decisions that are best for the child;

3. Both parents are entitled to certain custody and parenting time rights;

4. The parents can share certain income tax benefits related to having a child;

5. The child will benefit from having both parents actively involved in its life; and

6. The child cannot be placed for adoption without the father's consent or termination of his parental rights.

In Kansas, there are three ways an unmarried couple can establish paternity.

1. The most common way for a father to acknowledge that he is the child's parent is to sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form (VAP). This typically is done in the hospital. Upon both parents signing the VAP, the father's name will be added to the child's birth certificate;

2. If the father does not sign the VAP when the baby is born, the parents must complete a Paternity Consent Form for Birth Registration form, for the father's name to be added to the child's birth certificate. The form is available through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Office of Vital Statistics. Caution must be exercised in signing this acknowledgment because it is very difficult to revoke and must occur within one year of the child's birth. Courts are generally unwilling to undo acknowledgments of paternity without truly outrageous circumstances; or

3. Either parent or a governmental agency can file a paternity action with the court to establish paternity. A governmental agency will file a paternity action to be reimbursed by the child's father for benefits being paid for the child.

Establishing paternity in Missouri is very similar to that in Kansas. Paternity can be established as follows:

1. The child's parents can file an affidavit declaring who is the child's father;

2. The father can request a written affidavit or admission of paternity from the child's mother and file it with the Circuit Court;

3. The father can pay the mother's medical and hospital bills related to the pregnancy;

4. The father can support the child in a regular and continuous manner; or

5. Either parent or a governmental agency can file a paternity action with the County Circuit Court.