For years, it’s seemed like child custody cases automatically award custody to the mother in disputes. But things are changing and courts across Missouri are prioritizing the welfare of the child and the capability of the parent over historical normalcy. But if you’re not sure you’re the father of the child you’re trying to gain custody of, how can you prove it in court? Paternity tests can help you strengthen your case. Here’s what you need to know before you schedule a consultation with your Missouri family law attorney.
Paternity Tests Are Admissible in Court
Paternity tests are considered admissible in court and can strengthen your case if there’s a question over whether you’re the biological father of the child. If your paternity test shows that you’re the father, the court will take it into consideration when determining custody and visitation rights. But that doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to visitation if you’re not the biological father.
If you’ve raised the child as your own for several years and have accepted the role of parent in a clear and documentable way, the court will take this into consideration. You could still be entitled to regular visitation.
The Court Will Always Consider the Welfare of the Child
If the paternity test is positive, it won’t guarantee you visitation or custody. The court always considers the welfare of the child when deciding custody and visitation rights for both parents. If the court determines that you’re the most fit guardian, you may be able to get full custody. If they determine that both you and the child’s mother are fit guardians, they may award split custody.
You and your Missouri family law attorney can work together to determine what type of agreement you want to pursue. Keep in mind that Missouri courts tend to believe that joint custody agreements are in the best interest of the child in most cases. If you’re pushing for full custody, you’ll want to be able to show how joint custody will adversely impact your child.
You’ll Need to Prepare a Strong Case
Even with a positive paternity test, you’ll still need to make your case clearly and effectively. Be prepared to show proof of a stable income, your ability to safely care for and house your child, and anything else the court may deem necessary. Your attorney will advise you on what you’ll need to provide to strengthen your case.
An Experienced Family Law Attorney Can Help
If you’ve recently undergone a paternity test to prove that you’re the father of your child and want to pursue custody, you’ll want to make sure you’re working with an experienced Missouri family law attorney. They’ll be able to represent you in court and help you put forth the strongest case possible.
At Columbia Family Law Group, we understand that trying to gain custody or visitation rights can be a stressful experience, especially for fathers who just want what’s best for their child. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Missouri family law attorney.