DNA paternity testing is relied on by courts from coast to coast to help determine whether or not child support should be ordered. The reason is quite simply because the results are unbiased, scientifically-based, and extremely accurate. In most cases, the results from a test show either a 99% or higher probability of paternity or 0%. It’s a cut and dried process, which is what makes it so useful for settling disputes.
If you want to find out how to use paternity testing to obtain child support or if it’s even needed for your particular situation, here are the very basics of what you need to know. Keep in mind that states have different laws and the following situations don’t cover every possible scenario.
NOTE: This article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Paternity laws vary from state to state. For specific legal advice, please contact an attorney where you live.
If You Want to Get Child Support
If parents were married at the time the child was conceived and/or born, or is born within 300 days following a divorce: In most states, the husband is automatically considered to be the legal father of the child. In a divorce case, a DNA test wouldn’t be necessary since paternity of the child is already recognized under the law.
Bottom line: No paternity test is required.
If parents were unmarried at the time the child was born and the father acknowledges paternity: At the time the child is born, the father may choose to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. This indicates that the man is legally saying he is the father of the child. If both the mother and the father sign this Acknowledgment, then the man’s name goes on the birth certificate. As the legal father, he is responsible for paying if the couple splits up and a judgment for child support is ordered.
Bottom Line: No paternity test is required.
If parents were unmarried at the time the child was born and the father does not acknowledge paternity: In most states, if unmarried parents split up and the man hasn’t signed a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity or implied a paternal relationship through his actions, chances are good that the state will order a DNA paternity test to help establish or disprove paternity. If a man refuses to take the test, the court has the option to rule in favor of his providing child support and will act in what it considers to be the best interests of the child.
Bottom Line: A paternity test is required.
Know the Requirements for the Paternity Test
Unfortunately, a mistake many couples make is assuming that results from an at-home paternity test can be used as proof (or disproof) of paternity in a child-support case, and they are disappointed when they can’t use their results for legal purposes. Although an at-home test is terrific for informational or peace-of-mind purposes, its results are not court-admissible. This is simply because when parents and the child test at home, the court has no way of knowing if the samples submitted for testing were really theirs and not someone else’s.
In order for results to be court-admissible, a legal paternity test must be performed. With this type of test, DNA collection and submission is supervised by a third-party, disinterested witness.
Keep in mind that—no matter what state you live in or what its particular laws dictate—a court will almost always rule in favor of what’s best for the child. For legal guidance on how to petition the court for child support where you live, be sure to consult with a family-law attorney in your area.
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