What Is a Legal Paternity Test?

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What Is a Legal Paternity Test?

A legal paternity test is a paternity test that is requested in connection with a legal proceeding. Establishing paternity in court is a major aspect of some cases, especially those involving child custody, child visitation, child support, and other legal issues. Paternity tests can help resolve various issues in family law cases. Many legal determinations hinge upon the results of a paternity test.

How Are Paternity Tests Administered?

Establishing paternity in court proceedings generally requires the parties to submit to a paternity test. In almost all cases, this takes the form of a paternity DNA test to establish or disprove whether a person is the father of a child. DNA paternity tests are broadly established as reliable (about 99%). Thus, courts tend to rely on them when attempting to determine paternity.

What Is a Prenatal Paternity Test?

Prenatal paternity tests are DNA tests that are administered during pregnancy or while the mother is still pregnant. These are also sometimes used for legal paternity tests. However, courts tend to avoid using prenatal tests for paternity rulings, as they would prefer to wait until after childbirth to make the determination. Prenatal tests may be considered invasive and not as reliable as post-birth tests.

Prenatal paternity tests may also be discouraged due to fraudulent or defective test products and practices. Also, pre-delivery tests may present certain harms to both the mother and the unborn child. Some jurisdictions do however allow limited information from pre-natal tests.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Legal Paternity Tests?

Paternity rulings are final and can often affect the lives of both the child and the parents. You may wish to hire a lawyer if you need legal representation during a legal paternity test. Your lawyer can provide you with guidance for your claim, and can help determine your rights in the situation. Also, if you have any concerns or disputes, your attorney can be on hand to assist you.

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Last Modified: 02-27-2014 12:48 PM PST

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