When a child is born to married parents, there is rarely any question over who the biological father of the child is. However, when a child is born out of wedlock, paternity is one of the questions that can arise.
Right now, a recent study found that more children are being born to unmarried parents. In fact, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, the number of first births born to a couple cohabitating jumped from 12 percent in 2002, to 22 percent from the years 2006 to 2010.
Sociologists have a number of views on why there has been an increase in the number of children born to unmarried parents, and most can agree that it has something to do with the recession, which hit its height between 2007 and 2009. The thought is that many couples may have wanted to get married, but due to the downturn in the economy it just wasn't something people felt comfortable doing as they were not economically stable. However, even though money concerns may have been an issue, many of these couples still wanted to have children.
Additionally, aside from economic pressures, the truth is that there is also not as much social stigma regarding having a child out of wedlock. Without this social stigma, many couples who are cohabitating will go ahead with plans to have a child without first giving into the pressure to get married.
Of course, with more children being born out of wedlock, there could also be more fathers with paternity questions.
In general, in Missouri when a child is born out of wedlock, even if the father's name is on the birth certificate, it is still always a good idea for the father to file a paternity action. For without a paternity case, the father may end up paying child support, yet still not having any custodial or visitation rights. Basically, cohabitating and being on a birth certificate is just not enough to protect a father's rights.
Source: USA Today, "More children born to unmarried parents," Sharon Jayson, April 11, 2012