Filing a paternity case before the child is born

Paternity case prior to birthPaternity cases are one of the most common type of family law cases next to divorce.  The reason is that national data shows that approximately four out of every ten children in the United States are born out-of-wedlock.

For many of these children, the parents-to-be might be together in a committed relationship.  They are just not getting married for one reason or another.

In other cases, the parents-to-be might not be together in a relationship, but the situation may be relatively amicable.  In other words, both parents-to-be believe they will be able to agree on visitation for both parents after the child is born — and can put together a consent order.

In other situations, however, the facts might be more dubious.  The relationship between the parents-to-be might be acrimonious.  There might be hard feelings.  The parents-to-be might be totally unable to communicate.

When this is the case, some fathers often worry whether they will be able to get any visitation with their child after birth short of a court order.  But for many fathers, they may wrongly believe that they cannot take action until the child is born.

The laws in every state can vary.  This is why is it is important for any party to consult with an attorney who is licensed and competent to practice law in their state.

But, in Missouri, an unmarried father can actually file a paternity case prior to the child being born.  However, all proceedings are “stayed” except for “service of process” and “taking of depositions to perpetuate testimony.”

When many individuals hear that the proceedings are stayed, they see little point in filing a paternity case before the child is born.  The reality, however, is that getting the initial paperwork filed and serving the mother can take a substantial time after birth.  The mother then gets 30-days to file responsive pleadings in most instances before any temporary custody hearing could be set.  During all of this time, the father may be receiving no visitation with their child.

But by filing the paternity case prior to birth, and obtaining service, this can oftentimes substantially speed up the process toward obtaining a temporary custody hearing, which is often referred to as a Motion Pedente Lite (“PFL”).  This is why many unmarried fathers should consider the idea of filing a paternity case before birth where they desperately want visitation and do not believe they will get it without a court order.

If you are an unmarried father who is interested in getting visitation rights to a child, Stange Law Firm, PC can help.  You can call us at 1-855-805-0595.

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