Mississippi Family Law Attorneys
Obligations of a Father Who Is Not Married to His Child’s Mother
The father of a child born out of wedlock is liable to the same extent as the father
of a child born of lawful matrimony for the reasonable expense of the mother's pregnancy and confinement, and for the education, necessary support and maintenance, and medical and funeral expenses of the child. A child born out of wedlock includes a child born to a married woman by a man other than her lawful husband.
Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity
Paternity may be established if both parents submit a sworn acknowledgement of paternity to the State Board of Health after the birth of a child. Following receipt of the sworn acknowledgement, the State Board of Health shall amend the child’s birth certificate to show such paternity if paternity is not already shown on the birth certificate. Upon request of the parents for the legitimization of the child, the surname of the child shall be changed on the certificate to that of the father.
Either person who signs a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity may rescind the acknowledgment within the earlier of 60 days or the date of a judicial proceeding relating to the child, including a proceeding to establish a support order, in which
the signatory is a party. After the expiration of the 60 day period, a signed voluntary acknowledgment of paternity may be challenged in court only on the basis of fraud, duress or material mistake of fact, with the burden of proof upon the challenger. The legal responsibilities, including child support obligations, of any signatory arising
from the acknowledgment may not be suspended during the pendency of the challenge, except for good cause shown.
When a child is born out of lawful wedlock and the natural parents have not filed a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity, a paternity lawsuit may be filed by the mother, the father, the child, or by any public authority chargeable by law with the support of the child. As part of the judgment declaring paternity of the child, the
court may also award the reasonable expense of the mother's pregnancy and
hospital confinement and the education, necessary support and maintenance, and medical and funeral expenses of the child. The father's liabilities for past education and necessary support and maintenance and other expenses are limited to a period
of 1 year next preceding the commencement of the action. Parties in a paternity suit are not entitled to a jury trial.
In a paternity suit, either party has the right to demand that both parties and the child submit to DNA testing. If any party refuses to submit to DNA testing, the court may resolve the question of paternity against that party.
If the DNA test excludes the alleged father as the biological father of the child, the question of paternity shall be resolved accordingly. If the DNA test shows a
probability of paternity, that evidence shall be admitted. There shall be a rebuttable presumption of paternity if the probability of paternity shown by the DNA test is 98%
or greater. This presumption may only be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence.