A parentage case is a family law case which is filed on behalf of a minor child or children for the purpose of determining parentage, i.e. to establish who the child’s parents are. You’ll often hear this type of case referred to as a paternity case. While this term is often used and still widely accepted, the term “parentage” more accurately reflects modern interpretations of the law by our higher courts.

The definition of “family” is ever-evolving due to changes in our laws and in our society such as legalization of same sex marriage or the increased popularity of artificial insemination and surrogacy arrangements associated with children born to same sex couples. Overall, there has been a big spike in non-traditional family units and with that the door opens for a number of potential parents who had otherwise been unable to obtain parental rights.

Let the skilled and experienced parentage attorneys at Norton Hare help you with the complicated issues associated with parentage cases: Identification of all presumed parents, determination of parentage (biological and non-biological), determination of whether genetic testing to prove parentage is in the children’s best interest, establishment of custody and parenting time in the child’s best interest, establishment of child support, name changes, and in some cases, the division of jointly held assets and debts.

In Kansas and Missouri, generally, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if the man and the child’s mother were married and the child was born during the marriage or within 300 days after the marriage is terminated, if after the child’s birth the man and the child’s mother married and the man takes certain outward action purporting to be the child’s biological father, if the man notoriously or in writing claims to the child’s father, or if genetic test results indicate the man is the child’s father. Such a presumption of paternity can be rebutted only by clear and convincing evidence (i.e. evidence showing it is highly and substantially more likely that another man is the child’s father).

A common issue is whether genetic testing should be conducted to establish whether a presumed father is the child’s biological parent. A court will only ordered genetic testing if the court first determines that finding out whether the presumed father is the child’s biological parent is in the child’s best interest. The court’s consideration of the child’s best interest includes the child’s physical, mental and emotional needs and relationship with the presumed father. This determination is case-specific, fact-intensive inquiry.

Additionally, if you are unmarried but have comingled or jointly held assets or debts with your child’s parent and said joint assets or debts were acquired with the intent that you and your child’s parent share in them now and in the future, you could be entitled to an equitable division of the same as part of the parentage case. In many cases the Court can divide equity or proceeds of an asset to which only one parent holds actual legal title. The experienced team at Norton Hare will help you determine your rights and work with you to obtain what you and/or your children deserve.

Missouri and Kansas Paternity Lawyers

Whether you are a father who gets little to no parenting time with his child, a single mother who works tirelessly to provide without any financial assistance, a member of a same sex couple with children or an unmarried couple in a long-term relationship with children and co-mingled assets, Norton Hare has experience with your type of case.

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