Simplified Procedure for Acknowledgement of Paternity
Regulations promulgated by the Mississippi Department of Health provide for a simplified process to determine paternity if certain requirements are satisfied. First, the child's mother must not have been "married at the time of either conception or birth, or at any time between conception and birth." Second, the biological father must acknowledge paternity through execution of an affidavit along with the child's biological mother. Miss. Code Ann. §§ 41-57-1, -7; Code Miss. R. tit. 15.
Suit to Determine Paternity
In situations where acknowledgement of paternity is not an option, a suit to determine paternity must be filed. Pursuant to Miss. Code. Ann. § 93-9-1, venue for paternity actions lies in any of the following counties: (1) county where alleged father is present, (2) county where alleged father has property, (3) county where mother resides, or (4) the county where the child resides. Once the parent(s) as identified on the child’s birth certificate are served, the matter can be heard once thirty (30) days have elapsed.
Pursuant to Miss. Code. Ann. § 93-9-21(2), the court has authority to compel the interested parties to submit to blood tests. If such testing is requested, the court must order such testing. If a party refuses to submit to testing, Miss. Code Ann. § 93-9-21-(2) provides that the court may resolve the issue against such party. If testing indicates that the probability of paternity is at least 98%, a rebuttable presumption exists that such individual is the child's father.
In the event that paternity is established, the child's birth certificate will be amended to reflect paternity. A certified copy of the order establishing paternity should be forward to the Mississippi Department of Health. Upon receipt of the certified order, the name of the child’s father will be altered to reflect paternity. In addition, the surname of the child will be that of the biological father unless the judgment specifies to the contrary.
The noncustodial parent will be liable for the support and maintenance of the subject child. In addition, if health insurance is available, the noncustodial parent could be required to provide coverage for the child. In most instances, the parent who is not granted custody is given the following visitation rights: every other weekend, alternating holidays, and four (4) or five (5) weeks during the summer.