A state’s Supreme Court recently ruled a Missouri father does not have any custody rights when it comes to his 10-year-old daughter. It was determined that he should not have child custody rights because he simply waited too long after taking a paternity test to try and get custody of her.
This case goes back to the spring of 1999. At the time, the girl’s mother was romantically involved with two different men. According to the high court, the Missouri man heard from a co-worker that the woman might be pregnant. However, even though she supposedly traveled to St. Louis to speak with him, he never reached out to see what was going on.
The mother ended up having the child, and the other man she was romantically involved with helped care for the girl. In 2001, that other man was also granted visitation rights and started to pay child support. Then, in 2005, the girl was taken out of the care of her mother, and the man who raised her was given child custody rights.
In 2009, due to physical attributes, the mother contacted the Missouri man convinced he was actually the biological father. Around this time, the mother was also attempting to regain custody. After finding out that biologically he was in fact the girl’s father, during this same year the Missouri man did try and prevent not only the mother from regaining custody, but also tried to establish his own rights as a father.
However, while the district court did award custody to the Missouri man, the Supreme Court overturned that decision claiming he waited too long to establish those parental rights and never met to talk with the mother after hearing that she was possibly pregnant with his child.
As this case highlights, when it comes to paternity and establishing rights as a father, it’s important to take action right away. Of course, during the process of establishing those rights, it’s quite normal — and even expected — for there to be a number of questions and concerns. This is where a family law attorney can step in to answer any questions and make sure that a person’s rights as a father are protected.
Source: The Columbia Daily Tribune, “Court denies Missouri dad’s custody rights,” June 2, 2012