Find the right lawyer now

Is There a Statute of Limitations for Paternity Tests? | LegalMatch Law Library

Find a Local Family Lawyer near You

What is a Paternity Test?

A paternity test is a form of DNA testing designed to determine if a person is the biological parent of a specific child. Generally, these tests are easy and noninvasive, usually requiring nothing more than a simple swab of the inside of the cheek. 

Paternity tests are often requested by the court when there is a dispute as to who are the legal parents of a child. If parents are married when the child is born there is usually no paternity issue. However, if the child is born to an unmarried couple or a third party wishes to assert paternity rights, it may lead to a paternity action.

What is a "Statute of Limitations"?

Statute of limitations are essentially a time limit placed on the ability to bring a specific legal claim. Statutes of limitations vary depending on the type of legal claim and the laws of the local jurisdiction. 

The statute of limitations on a claim will generally begin to run when the action that is the basis for the legal claim occurs or the action is discovered. If a party fails to file a claim before the statute of limitations expires, they may lose their chance to make the claim in court.

Do Statutes of Limitations Apply to Paternity Tests?

Many states have a statute of limitations attached to paternity actions. The length of the statute of limitations can vary widely depending on the type of paternity action and the laws of the local jurisdiction. 

For example, in California, there is no statute of limitation for establishing paternity, however, claims to contest paternity are required to be filed within two years of the birth of the child. Some examples of different paternity related action include:

  • Actions to establish paternity;
  • Petitions to review acknowledgement of paternity;
  • Suits for support and maintenance; and/or
  • Contesting paternity.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Paternity and family issues can be complicated. Laws on these issues vary considerably from state to state. If you are dealing with a paternity issue, you should consult a family law attorney to help guide you through the process.

Photo of page author John Kirby

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 04-22-2018 06:29 PM PDT

Law Library Disclaimer
  • No fee to present your case
  • Choose from lawyers in your area
  • A 100% confidential service
What is LegalMatch?

We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.