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Once You Receive Your Paternity Test Results Paternity Legal Issues and Rights

Paternity Legal Issues and Rights

When a child is born, not only is a baby brought into the world, but new rights are afforded to the child and his parents. To establish the paternity rights of a father, one of two methods must be used: signing of a consent form or showing parentage through a DNA paternity test.

Both of these hold the same legal weight, and a consent form should only be signed if both the mother and father agree that they are the child's parents. According to the Department of Health and Human Services report "Paternity Establishment" (PDF link), 35 of the 50 states assume that the parents signing are given an oral notification at the hospital or from another source before signing the parental acknowledgment form.


This can lead to forms being signed by those who are unaware of the legal ramifications such a form holds. This is in violation of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 which states "the mother and the putative father must be given notice, orally and in writing, of the alternatives to, the legal consequences of, and the rights."

Another means of establishing parentage for for paternity rights is to have a genetic test done to determine the biological father of a child. For legal purposes, many states will only accept DNA tests conducted in a laboratory accredited by the AABB (American Association of Blood Banks). Some DNA testing labs are not licensed, since it is not required in many states to test for relatedness. Choosing an accredited lab will ensure that the results are accepted by the state and prevent a costly retesting to be done. SPARC notes that the average paternity test can cost between $450 and $500, but many states are able to get approved tests at a discount.

When considering DNA tests to establish paternity rights there are two main testing methods used: PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) and RFLP. The most commonly used to determine paternity is PCR since it does not require as large of a sample. In many instances, this test will use a buccal (cheek) swab. The downside is that there is a higher margin of error with this testing format. The other type fo DNA testing used is RFLP. Most of the time this will require a blood sample taken at a clinic, it is more accurate, but collecting a blood sample by a doctor or nurse is more expensive than a do-it-yourself buccal swab. The greatest determining factor in the accuracy of a paternity test is the lab to where it is sent. Accredited labs use both methods. It is important to consult with a lawyer who knows the laws and paternity rights of the state in order to ensure that the results from the paternity test will be accepted.
Since the laws vary by state, the parents of a child need to consult with a lawyer who is well versed in the procedures of the state to establish paternity and the rights and responsibilities held by the mother and father.