Legal things to know when taking paternity test

Son watching father use laptop

A paternity test is a test that is taken to determine whether an individual is the biological father of a child. A DNA test is considered in both scientific and legal communities when trying to accurately determine the relationship between a child and their potential father.

This test is so reliable because a person’s genetic fingerprint is unique. A child shares 50% of their DNA with their biological mother and the other 50% with their biological father.

One lab can have a different paternity test cost to another one so you should weigh the different options out and find what works best for you. However, as far as legal disputes go, a court of law usually presides over how DNA paternity tests are done to determine the legal parentage of a child.

These cases have become common and mostly pertain to child support or custody hearings and in some instances, family-based immigration claims. Here’s what you need to know about DNA paternity testing.

Can I Refuse to Take a Paternity Test?

If you have been requested to take a paternity test, you are well within your liberties to decline regardless of the paternity test cost. However, refusal to take the action does come with its consequences.

In some states, refusal to take a paternity test may result in civil lawsuits and the potential father could be held in contempt of the court. However, not every court will force the man to take the test immediately. They will first review the case’s facts and determine whether or not the test is necessary.

Who Can Request A Paternity Test?

There are certain people legally allowed to request for a paternity test and they include:

  • The child’s mother (or mother of the expected child)
  • A man claiming to be the father of the child
  • A personal representative of the child or a non-parental adult appointed to represent the child’s interests by the court
  • The child himself/herself upon reaching the age of maturity (typically between 18 and 21, depending on the state)
  • A social service agency or prosecutor

Can Paternity Results Be Contested?

DNA results are known to be accurate when determining the biological relationship between two parties. More often than now, paternity tests are ordered when there are enough facts to justify the proceedings. There are cases, however, where one can contest the results:

  • When there are fraudulent lab results. Eg, when someone else takes the test on behalf of the father.
  • When the potential father provides proof of sterility or infertility.
  • If there is evidence that the lab results were tampered with.
  • If the DNA samples were collected from the father without his consent.

Does One Need An Attorney For Paternity Test Issues?

Determining the paternity of a child is important when handling issues involving custody, visitation, and child support cases.

Therefore, having a family law attorney on your side can work in your favor because they’re well poised to advise you on how to avoid paternity fraud and whether a paternity test is required by law in your state. The attorney can also be able to represent you in court if need be.

Final Thoughts

There is usually no need for a paternity test if the parents of the child were married when the child was born. The child is generally assumed to be the child of the marriage unless there was a suspected case of infidelity.

If the parents were unmarried or there is a third party claiming biological parentage of the child, it could lead to the court ordering a paternity test. Also, if the child was born within three hundred days of the parents terminating their marriage, the man is presumed to be the paternal father.

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About the Author: James Watt

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