What Is a Paternity Test?

September 17, 2021

Wondering whether you’re really the father of your child? Are you a mother who wants to prove paternity in order to receive child support? If so, you’ll need a DNA paternity test. Legal paternity tests are used to establish paternity (that is, who fathered the child) so the court can determine who is responsible for paying child support. It’s also a key part of beginning the custody and visitation process.

When do you need a paternity test?

There are a few reasons someone might want a paternity test. For example, the mother might want to establish who the father is for child support. A potential father may suspect the child is not his, and wish to prove otherwise. Finally, the father may want to establish paternity so they can petition for custody or visitation.

Generally speaking, if a couple is married at the time the mother gives birth, the law automatically assumes that the husband is the father. However, infidelity may be an issue, or perhaps the child was conceived in the time between legal separation and divorce. In that case, both the husband and the father may want to establish paternity for different reasons. Furthermore, even if another man’s name is on the birth certificate, a potential father can request a paternity test.

If the mother is not married at the time of birth, she’ll need to request a paternity test for purposes of child support. Either party can request a paternity test.

What happens if someone refuses a paternity test?

Anyone can refuse to take a paternity test—but it’s not a good idea. A paternity test may be granted by court order. If the potential father refuses to take the test, he may be held in contempt of court.

The mother can also refuse a DNA paternity test. Again, this is not a wise decision. If a mother refuses a paternity test, she won’t be able to establish who the father is for child support purposes. If you want to receive court-ordered, legally enforceable child support, you will need to comply with the paternity testing.

Is there any way to contest the result of a paternity test?

If there’s evidence of fraud, a party can contest the results of the paternity test. For example, if a father is sterile or infertile, someone took the test on the father’s behalf or the results appear to have been tampered with, your attorney can file the appropriate motions to contest the results.

Do I need a lawyer?

When your divorce, custody or child support action requires a paternity test, it’s always best to have a lawyer on your side. They’ll know exactly how to request a DNA paternity test and what to do if the results are unexpected, contested or otherwise present legal issues. As a general rule, it’s always best to have representation—you don’t want to gamble with your child’s (or your own) livelihood.

For child support and custody assistance, reach out to K.J. Law P.A. today to schedule a consultation.

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