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There are two sides to every child custody case. In this blog, we will discuss the paternity side. Paternity is defined as fatherhood. Going through a custody dispute can be difficult for all parties involved. Our experienced attorneys at the Lake of the Ozarks are here to answer some frequently asked questions regarding paternity suits.

Deputy & Mizell, Injury Attorneys near Lake of the Ozarks


How is legal “paternity” status established through the court?


When a man believes he is the biological father of a child, he may file, what is referred to as a “Father’s Petition for Declaration of Paternity, Child Custody and/or Support form.” This case must be filed in a circuit court where the child or mother resides. It may also be filed where a case already involving the child is pending. If other people, permitted by Missouri law are interested, they may file a petition to establish paternity as well.


You may hear the term, “next friend.”


When you hear “next friend” in Missouri court, this refers to a case involving a child under the age of 18. A “next friend” is an adult who must be appointed by the court to act on behalf of a child. Being the “next friend” does NOT give the person any special status when it comes to determining the custody of the child.


Deputy & Mizell, Injury Attorneys near Lake of the Ozarks


Is “genetic testing” required in a paternity suit?


No, it is not required. However, if there is a dispute, you may ask for genetic testing. Free genetic testing is available through the Missouri Department of Social Services Family Support Division if a person requests it before paternity is established. The genetic testing requires samples being taken from the child and all suspected parents of the child. These samples are usually cells from the lining of the mouth. Once the samples have been collected, they are compared in an approved laboratory to look for matches in DNA of the person and child.


How is the “Parenting Plan” arranged?


When custody is considered, each party files their own “Parenting Plan” before the hearing. If both parties agree, a joint plan can be filed. The “Parenting Plan” should list the following:

  • A schedule of times where the child will spend with each parent
  • How the parents will make decisions regarding the child’s welfare

The Missouri Courts Judicial Branch of Government website has a resource that can assist parents in designing their parenting plans, the “In Your Child’s Best Interest Handbook.”


When you hire our family law firm at the Lake of the Ozarks, you can rely on us to pursue every available option to attempt to get you the best results for your specific situation. Our opponents know that we will not hesitate to fight to protect our client’s interests. If you are in need of an experienced family law attorney at the Lake of the Ozarks, call one of our offices today to schedule your free consultation.


Contact Deputy & Mizell, LLC to schedule your private (FREE) consultation today.

Deputy & Mizell, Injury Attorneys near Lake of the Ozarks

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