It’s one of the most important questions anyone can answer for a child: who’s my biological father? Many people get a paternity test simply for peace of mind. They want to put long-held nagging suspicions to rest or confirm a biological relationship for medical or other reasons. But for others, there are legal situations that absolutely require a paternity test. Here’s a quick overview of the five most common ones.
#1 Legal Reason for a Paternity Test: Child Support and Custody
If a child is conceived and/or born while the couple is married, the man is presumed to be the father. If the couple separate and divorce later, in most cases the man is still considered legally and financially responsible for the child, even if a paternity test determines he is not biologically related.
If the couple isn’t married, then a legal relationship must first be established between the child and the father before a child-support order or custody arrangement is approved by the court. DNA tests have become popular choices for the legal system in most states, but they’re not always required. If a man has doubts about whether or not he’s the biological father, it is wise to request a paternity test before signing the birth certificate or an acknowledgment of paternity. For court-admissible results, DNA collection and sample submission must be witnessed by a disinterested third party.
#2 Legal Reason for a Paternity Test: Inheritance Rights
Sometimes, as in the case of the late singer Prince, there are situations where inheritance rights are in dispute. The alleged heir may be known or unknown, a minor or an adult, and the rights may or may not be in dispute. Whatever the case, a legal DNA paternity test (or maternity test, if the mother is deceased) can quickly and efficiently put any doubts to rest, ensure that the right people receive what is rightfully theirs, and make certain that everyone involved is treated fairly. And by doing a legal test, the results are court-admissible, should the situation require it.
#3 Legal Reason for a Paternity Test: Benefits
Along with inheritance rights, there are other benefits that heirs may be entitled to upon the decease of a biological parent (mother or father). Social Security and life-insurance benefits often require that a beneficiary provide proof of paternity. A medical examiner is usually court-ordered to collect the DNA sample, which he then submits to an accredited lab, like IDENTIGENE. Using DNA evidence mitigates the trouble of having to research, locate, and produce other documents as proof of paternity.
#4 Legal Reason for a Paternity Test: Immigration
DNA is the go-to method for all government entities to help prove a close family relationship when birth certificates and other documentation are not available. An immigration paternity test is most often ordered to prove either paternity and maternity, but it can also include sibling tests and grandparent tests. As a highly-accredited lab, IDENTIGENE works closely with U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as well as nearly 200 embassies all around the world. We make all the arrangements and guide you every step of the way. Keep in mind that, like other DNA tests that are used for legal reasons, an immigration test requires that DNA collection and submission to the lab be witnessed.
#5 Reason for a Paternity Test: Adoption
The desire to know our biological roots is extremely strong, and so adults who are raised by adoptive parents or who have been conceived through donors often go searching for their birth-mother or birth-father. In many of these cases, a home paternity test or maternity test strictly for peace of mind is suitable. But if the child needs the relationship information for any of the reasons listed in this article (immigration, social security, inheritance, etc.), then a witnessed legal DNA test is needed.
The Bottom Line
Before taking a paternity test , it’s important to consider how you’re going to use the results. If you want a test simply for your own information and peace of mind, then testing at home is the perfect choice; but it you’re going to use the results for any type of legal reason, it’s essential that you contact the lab right away before opening your kit. Many customers simply err on the safe side: they go ahead and do legal testing even if they don’t anticipate ever needing to go to court. That way, they only pay for testing the one time and their bases are covered. It’s up to you!
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“Child Support 101.2: Establishing Paternity.” NCSL.org. National Conference of State Legislatures, n.d. Web. <http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/enforcement-establishing-paternity.aspx>.
Hertz, Frederick. “Paternity Issues and Child Support | Nolo.com.” Nolo.com. NOLO, n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2016. <http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/paternity-issues-child-support-29847.html>.
Marquit, Miranda. “What Is Child Support – Laws & Guidelines for Payments.” Money Crashers. SparkCharge Media, LLC., n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2016. <http://www.moneycrashers.com/child-support-payments-laws-guidelines/>.
Wolf, Jeff. “Establishing Paternity in Court.” – MassLegalHelp. Mass Legal Services, July 2013. Web. 12 Aug. 2016. <http://www.masslegalhelp.org/children-and-families/establishing-paternity>.