Determining the paternity, or the fatherhood, of your child is a key component of child custody cases and can be instrumental in getting you the child support you may be owed or in establishing visitation rights, as discussed previously in our previous blog post.
Paternity can come into question when a child is born to unmarried parents, but establishing paternity can be crucial for a number of reasons, including determining financial support, insurance benefits, or developing a clearer picture of the child’s medical history. Establishing paternity is also the first step that must be taken to add the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate.
There are two ways to legally establish paternity in Mississippi. The first route parents can take is through a voluntary program called A Simple Acknowledgement of Paternity (ASAP). This program carries the same legal effect as if the father and mother were married at the time of birth and allows the father’s name to be added to the birth certificate. This can be done while the mother is still in the hospital and requires both parents to sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form and return it to hospital staff. When filed along with the birth certificate, the form carries no fee.
Should establishing paternity be involuntary, either because the mother or alleged father refuses to acknowledge it or calls it in question, a petition must be submitted to the specific Mississippi court that has authority over the matter.
If the father in question refuses to sign the acknowledgement of paternity form, the mother can request help from the Division of Field Operations at Mississippi Department of Human Services, which will also assist in getting child support through the court system. This service typically carries a $25 fee, however, it is usually waived if the mother receives any state-supported benefits. For more information on the specifics of paternity in Mississippi, you can visit the Mississippi Department of Human Services website.