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Q: If a woman gets pregnant outside of a legalized marriage, what rights does the man have to the child?

In Mississippi a father has the same legal rights as a mother regardless if the couple is married. However, the father may have to enforce his legal rights by filing a complaint to establish paternity, custody, child support, and child support; if the mother refuses to cooperate. When necessary and the applicant qualifies, the Department of Human Services will file for paternity against the father when seeking an Order for child support.

This DHS filing does not address custodial rights or visitation or other relevant matters pertaining to the child, only paternity and child support.  Mississippi determines paternity by blood or genetic ancestry. Once determined by the Court to be the father, the father is ruled to be the biological and legal father and has the same rights as the other parent.

As seen in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal’s “Ask a Professional.” 

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