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 child custody attorney to help guide you through the process.