There are three parts to a paternity action:
- A judicial declaration of paternity and ordering father’s name to be added to the birth certificate,
- A child support order,
- A plan for custody and visitation referred to as a parenting plan.
Evidence of paternity can be from various sources including
- A DNA test,
- A signed Affidavit of Paternity at the hospital at the time of the birth,
- aEvidence that the child was presented as ones’ child, including bringing the child home to raise.
The parenting plan for the child addresses whether custody will be sole custody or joint custody and provides a schedule for visits. The Missouri legislature has expressed a preference for joint custody and takes the position that a continuing relationship with both parents is the ideal for a child’s healthy development. The parenting plan will provide for decision making as to the child’s education, medical care and religious upbringing. Child support is determined based on a calculation that takes the parents’ income and expenses into account. One of the parent’s addresses is designate the child’s permanent address for residential and educational purposes.
The parenting plan becomes a permanent part of the final judgment, providing the legal structure of the family of the child in the absence of a marriage, as well as protection in the event of interference with custody.