Dads must fight for their rights when child is born out of wedlock

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Child Custody on Tuesday, January 26, 2016.

Though Missouri’s family law has changed in many ways to adapt to our evolving ideas of what a family is, in some ways the law remains behind the times. In one important example, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if the child was born to his or her “natural mother” while the man was married to the mother, or within 300 days of the end of the marriage.

On the other hand, when a child is born outside of marriage, there is no presumption of paternity — even when the mother is living with a man in a situation very similar to a marriage. This can create serious complications regarding paternity and child custody if the parents’ relationship ever sours, and the father had not taken steps to establish paternity over the child. One way to get around this is to get on the putative father registry.

A Missouri man tells KMOV-TV he is going through this situation right now. He had a child with a woman who was his partner for seven years, but the couple never married and eventually broke up. The mother later decided to have her grandparents adopt the girl.

The man says he is the girl’s father, and that he did not consent to the adoption, which he considers to be a “legal way of kidnapping.” However, he never established legal paternity rights over the girl, so he could not stop the adoption. He says he had an informal child custody and support arrangements with the mother, but that did not establish parental rights.

Most unfortunate family law disputes can be avoided with advanced planning, such as making sure your parental rights are established even when your relationship with the child’s mother is good.

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