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Challenging Paternity

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Can Paternity be Challenged?

When there is a question as to who is the father of a child or children, the issue may be resolved by filing a paternity claim.  A paternity claim is actually a civil lawsuit, and thus both sides will present evidence in support of their own claims. 

The most common method of challenging paternity is through a paternity test.  This may involve DNA testing or other forms of biological data linking the person to the particular child or children. 

However, paternity can also be established through other means such as medical records and other documents.  In other words, a paternity lawsuit need not always involve an actual biological paternity test.  Also, a person can voluntarily acknowledge that they are the father of a child, and the paternity challenge will be resolved in this way.

What are the Effects of Challenging Paternity?

If a person challenges paternity and proves that they are not the father of a child, it can have very far-reaching effects on the child.  For example, the child may lose:

  • Rights to benefits, including child support, social security benefits, death benefits, and inheritance rights
  • Access to the medical history of the father.  This is important because paternity grants the child the legal right to be informed of any medical issues or genetic diseases that may have been passed from the father to the child.

How Can Paternity be Challenged?

Challenging paternity involves similar means of proof as establishing paternity.  In order to challenge paternity, the person may offer evidence such as medical documents disproving paternity.  Or, it may be the case that the child’s true father has already been established, but there is some confusion regarding identity (for example, if they have the same name).

The results of a paternity test can also be challenged.  In most jurisdictions, the readings from a paternity test may be overturned upon proof that:

  • The person in question was sterile or infertile
  • The lab results were subject to tainting, fraud, or tampering
  • Other factors were involved such as insufficient data or errors in the lab work

Many persons involve in a paternity suit are not aware that challenges can be made even later on during proceedings, and even after a determination has been reached.  However, the rules involved in challenging paternity may vary by state, so it’s best to work with a lawyer for guidance during the process.

How Can a Lawyer Help When Challenging Paternity?

Challenging paternity may be necessary at times in order to provide the child with the appropriate parenting arrangement.  If you are involved with paternity issues, you may wish to consult with a family lawyer in your area.  An attorney will be able to advise you on the laws of your state, and can assist you with preparing the necessary evidence for your claim.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 03-16-2012 04:36 PM PDT

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