When a child’s parents are unmarried, they may have broken up by the time the child is born or soon after. They may have a lot of pain and ill-will toward each other, especially if their relationship was unhealthy or ended badly.
A bad relationship can lead to questions about whether the man is the child’s biological parent. Even if parentage is agreed upon, when parents are not married, paternity must be established before a mother can seek child support or a father can seek custody rights.
How to establish paternity in Mississippi
You can establish paternity in Mississippi in two ways.
Both parents can sign a sworn acknowledgement of paternity. This document must be filed with the State Board of Health. This establishes paternity for all legal purposes.
Paternity can also be established through a court order. Either parent can petition the court for a determination of paternity. Genetic tests may be required to establish paternity.
A signed, sworn and filed acknowledgement of paternity and a court order of paternity are legally binding. There are ways to rescind an acknowledgement of paternity or to disestablish a court order of paternity, but they are very limited.
A father’s responsibilities and rights
A father has legal obligations in Mississippi after paternity is established. A father must pay child support. This support is used to pay for the child’s living needs, educational needs, childcare needs and health care needs.
A father can also seek child custody and visitation after paternity is established. The child’s mother has full custody rights over the child until paternity is established.
Child custody and visitation rights can be pursued through court proceedings. Establishing paternity alone does not automatically give a father custody and visitation rights.
Paternity is important
Establishing paternity is important. Establishing paternity provides the child with financial support. Establishing paternity helps a child learn more about their identity. Establishing paternity also helps a child learn more about their family medical history.
When a child has two legal parents, they can live a better life. Establishing paternity can ensure that the child’s needs are met, and it can be the start of resolving other family law issues related to parenthood.