Friday, April 24, 2009

Paternity action can define a parenting relationship

Parents who have a child when they are not married to each other can use a paternity action to legally define each parent's rights and responsibilities with regard to their child.

A paternity action will establish both child support and parenting time. Parenting time is the time each parent gets to spend with their child. These are both important considerations if you are breaking up with the other parent of your child.

Missouri encourages parents to share joint legal and joint physical custody of their children. Joint physical custody does not mean that the parents share equal amounts of time. It does mean that both parents have ongoing, significant time with the child.

Joint legal custody means that legally mom is still mom and dad is still dad. Both parents share decisions about their child's schooling, medical care, religious upbringing and activities.

If you are a dad who has been served with child support papers from the state, it is important for you to understand that the state will only establish child support. There will be no order defining your parenting time with your child. You need to bring a paternity action to set up your parenting time with your child.