Legal Help When Your Rights Are At Stake
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A Law Firm Advocating For The Rights Of Both Parents

The most important thing two people can ever do together is create a child. Missouri law does not treat unmarried parents the same way it treats married parents. This is not fair. This is not good law. Fortunately, most family court judges understand the nuances of unmarried parenthood. Most, but not all. You need experienced counsel to ensure your rights and the best interests of your child are both protected when you go to court.

Most laypersons, and sadly a number of trained professionals (such as law enforcement officers, counselors and even a few lawyers who dabble in family law) do not understand the concept of paternity presumptions. A child of unmarried parents always has one presumed parent – the mother. Sometimes, the child has a presumed father. Sometimes, the child has two presumed fathers. In some cases, there are even three legally presumed fathers. This is good for nobody and should ideally be sorted out with the proper legal action while the child is still young.

Why Is It Important To Establish Paternity?

Paternity presumptions matter for a number of reasons. Here’s one example: Without a legal presumption, a biological father has no rights to his child. How does an unmarried father obtain a legal presumption? Nowadays, it mostly occurs in the birth hospital, with the consent of both parents. But sometimes this doesn’t happen, for various reasons. Presumptions can occur later through an acknowledgment process, genetic testing, court order or marriage. Each method is different, and each involves varying degrees of cooperation.

Perhaps the area most fraught with danger for unmarried parents is the concept of the immediate right to custody of the child. Here’s the truth: Without a court order, either presumed parent has an immediate right to custody, including the “power” to exclude the other parent. That power is not fair nor just, but because of the nature of paternity law in Missouri, it remains true. Many law enforcement officers do not understand these rights. This can cause real problems for parents and more importantly, the innocent child caught up in something that has quickly turned bad.

Protect Your Rights With A Parenting Plan

If you are not together with your child’s other parent; or if you two are contemplating a separation, you must seek competent counsel to discuss a parenting plan. This involves a court proceeding to confirm your proper parentage presumption and adopt a custody schedule that is in the best interests of your child. Law enforcement officers do understand court orders and parenting plans, and will enforce them if need be. But hopefully, it will never come to that: Pingelton Law Firm has worked with both mothers and fathers in previously very difficult circumstances to bring them to a place of peace and resolution that both they and their child appreciate many years later.

Financially, it is important to develop a plan for supporting the child early. Delayed resolution of these issues can result in one parent owing many thousands of dollars for “reimbursement of necessaries” or “prepetition support.” Or, a parent may lose thousands of dollars as the statute of limitations for these obligations expire. Dan Pingelton is a recognized expert on these issues and will apply his knowledge to your unique case.

Discuss Your Paternity Concerns Today

Pingelton Law Firm is located in Columbia, Missouri, and serves clients throughout the surrounding areas. If you’d like to discuss your legal options, call 573-283-0817 or contact the firm online to request a free initial consultation.