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Laws and Paternity

Any mother seeking to know the father of her child will have to understand that not only does a genetic match to a child make him a father, but it also has legal ramifications. These paternity laws vary by state, but they all share some common threads such as the fact that the biological father of a child does have a financial obligation to fulfill to his offspring.

Two common methods are used to establish parentage under the various paternity laws: signing a consent form and taking a DNA test. A consent form does not require a genetic test. It is a voluntary form filled out by both the father and mother who are not married that they are both the parents of the child. This form binds the parents to financially support the child at least until he turns 18. Depending upon the state in which the form was signed, it may or may not be revoked.

The other means of establishing paternity is a DNA test as made known in the US Code: Title 42, ch 7, subchapter IV, part D, ยง666. This test can either affirm or deny the paternity of a father. Many lawyers who specialize in paternity laws will recommend that a DNA test be done in all cases of paternity when the parents are not married. Both of the parents and the child will need to have their DNA tested to establish parentage.

In cases where the father does not wish to cooperate with the test, he can be forced by the state to submit a DNA sample. This can either be a cheek swab or a blood sample. Should the sample not be sent, a lawyer can be hired who knows the specific paternity laws for the state to seek a court order or trial to force the establishment of paternity.

Acceptable DNA tests to establish paternity laws

The sample should then be sent only to a laboratory accredited by the AABB. Most states will only accept results from these accredited labs. This is due to the lower margin of error in DNA paternity testing results since these labs are held to a higher standard of quality. Links to the forms for establishing voluntary paternity or to get a court-ordered paternity test can be found for the various states at USLegalForms.com.

Seeking paternity has many limitations. Many states have deadlines by which the father of a child must be proven either with a DNA test or by signing a consent form. In most instances, the states require that paternity is established by the child's 18th birthday, but some states allow for paternity to be linked to a child as late as four years after the child comes of age. Checking with a paternity lawyer in the individual's state can ensure that the proper procedures are followed, forms submitted, and tests taken.