If you are the biological father of a child but are not named on the child's birth certificate, you face significant legal ramifications -- the mother may put the child up for adoption without notifying you, for example, and you can lose all rights to custody. In Missouri, there are two ways to have the child's birth certificate amended to list you as the father -- by executing an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity and by filing a civil action in court. Executing an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity is the easiest and most convenient method, as long as you can obtain the mother's cooperation.
Undergo a paternity test at an accredited DNA testing facility. DNA paternity tests cost between $400 and $2,000 and require a DNA sample from your child. Although Missouri does not require the results of a paternity test to amend a birth certificate when no one disputes your paternity, the results of a paternity test will establish your paternity beyond reasonable doubt and could be useful in case a paternity dispute arises later.
Obtain a copy of your child's birth certificate. Since you have not yet established parternity, the child's mother must obtain this document for you. She can obtain a copy from any local health department in Missouri for a fee of $15 per copy by presenting a government-issued photo ID, filling out an application form and having it notarized.
Complete an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity available on the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website. This form requires information that appears on the child's birth certificate, as well as information about the mother and father, such as places of birth, dates of birth and current addresses.
Execute the Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity by signing together with the child's mother in the presence of a notary public or two witnesses. If the notary public witnesses the signing, he must place his seal on the affidavit. If two witnesses are used, they must sign and date the affidavit and provide their addresses.
Mail the Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity to the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services, Attn: Amendment Unit, P.O. Box 570, Jefferson City, MO 65102, together with a filing fee of $15 (the fee as of 2011). The child's birth certificate will be amended to include your name as the child's legal father.
- Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity
Tips & Warnings
You may prevent your child's mother from putting your child up for adoption without notifying you by registering with the Putative Father Registry within 15 days after the child's birth.
If you cannot obtain the cooperation of the child's mother, you will have no choice but to file a paternity lawsuit and seek a court order amending the child's birth certificate.
References & Resources
- Missouri Family and Divorce Lawyer Blog: Missouri Paternity Rights -Putative Father Registry
- Separated Parenting Access & Resource Center: Notes on Paternity Testing
- American Pregnancy Association: Paternity Testing
- Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services: Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity
- Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services: Obtaining Certified Copies of Vital Records
- The Missouri Bar: Pro Bono Attorneys Deskbook: Name Change
- Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services: Correcting or Changing Vital Records
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