Around the country, forty percent of children are born out of wedlock. In some cases, when a romantic relationship between unmarried partners turns sour, a man may get shut out of his child's life - which can have devastating effects on both the father and the child.
In order to help unwed fathers have the opportunity to be in a child's life, Missouri has established the putative father registry, which allows men who believe they are the father of a child to legally claim that child with the state.
How the Registry Works
Men who want to establish that they are the father of a child can file a Notice of Intent to Claim Paternity with the Bureau of Vital Records. Although this doesn't establish legal paternity, it creates an official record that a man wants to legally be responsible for his child.
Benefits of the Registry
The putative father registry can be useful when a man cannot establish paternity of his child because he cannot find the mother, or because the mother refuses to allow a paternity test. Also, the registry can be beneficial if a man suspects that the mother of his child will put the baby up for adoption against his will. After being added to the registry, he will be notified if an adoption has been initiated and will have the opportunity to contest it.
Although the putative father registry is a step towards legally claiming responsibility for a child, it's best to officially establish paternity. This can be done when both parents sign an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity when the child is born. The child's father should also file a paternity action in the circuit court to establish custody and visitation. Simply establishing paternity does not equate to having enforceable visitation rights. A Missouri paternity attorney can guide fathers through the legal process of establishing paternity.
Once paternity is established, and a custody order entered in court, the father has a legal right to visitation and opportunity to make important decisions regarding the child's life.
To hear more on this topic, you can listen to our podcast titled: What is the putative father registry?