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Massachusetts Paternity Law

This page about Massachusetts paternity laws is provided as general information only. Journey Genetic Testing does not provide legal advice or representation. We encourage you to research your state laws for the most current information, or contact a family law attorney.

Massachusetts Paternity Law: Part II. Real & Personal Property & Domestic Relations TITLE III. DOMESTIC RELATIONS

Chapter 209C: Section 6. Presumption of paternity; mandatory joinder

Section 6. (a) In all actions under this chapter a man is presumed to be the father of a child and must be joined as a party if:

(1) he is or has been married to the mother and the child was born during the marriage, or within three hundred days after the marriage was terminated by death, annulment or divorce; or

(2) before the child’s birth, he married or attempted to marry the mother by a marriage solemnized in apparent compliance with law, although the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child was born during the attempted marriage or within three hundred days after its termination; or

(3) after the child’s birth, he married or attempted to marry the mother by a marriage solemnized in apparent compliance with law, although the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and

(i) he agreed to support the child under a written voluntary promise, or

(ii) he has engaged in any other conduct which can be construed as an acknowledgment of paternity; or

(4) while the child is under the age of majority, he, jointly with the mother, received the child into their home and openly held out the child as their child; or

(5) he has acknowledged paternity in a parental responsibility claim as provided in section four A of chapter two hundred and ten and the mother, having received actual notice thereof, has failed within a reasonable time, to object thereto; or

(6) with respect to a child born before April 13, 1994, with his consent and the consent of the child’s mother, he is named as the child’s father on the birth certificate as provided in section one of chapter forty-six.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a), a husband or former husband shall not be required to be joined as a party if non-paternity of the child has previously been adjudicated in a proceeding between the husband and the mother of such child in a court or administrative agency of competent jurisdiction.

(c) Notice to a party joined as herein provided shall be sufficient if the summons is mailed to the last known address by a form of mail requiring a receipt and, if actual notice shall not be made as aforesaid, by publishing a copy of the notice once in each of three successive weeks in a newspaper designated by the court.

Chapter 209C: Section 11. Acknowledgment of parentage; approval; parental agreements regarding custody, support and visitation

(a) A written voluntary acknowledgment of parentage executed jointly by the putative father, whether a minor or not, and the mother of the child, whether a minor or not, and filed with the registrar of vital records and statistics or with the court shall be recognized as a sufficient basis for seeking an order of support, visitation or custody with respect to the child without further proceedings to establish paternity, and no judicial proceeding shall be required or permitted to ratify an acknowledgment that has not been challenged pursuant to this section. A report, prepared on an electronic system of birth registration approved by the commissioner of public health and indicating that an acknowledgment pursuant to this chapter has been executed in accordance with section 3C of chapter 46 and filed with the registrar of vital records and statistics, shall be presumed to be a sufficient basis for seeking an order of support, visitation or custody without further proceedings to establish paternity. The voluntary acknowledgment shall be attested to before a notary public and shall have the legal effect as provided in this section. Unless either signatory rescinds the acknowledgment within 60 days of the date of signing as provided in this section, the acknowledgment shall establish paternity as of the date it has been signed by such putative father and mother and shall have the same force and effect as a judgment of paternity, subject to challenge within one year only on the basis of fraud, duress or material mistake of fact; provided, however, that if, prior to the expiration of the 60-day period, the signatory is a party to an administrative or judicial proceeding related to the child, including a proceeding to establish child support, visitation or custody, and fails to rescind the acknowledgment at the time of such proceeding, the acknowledgment shall thereafter have the same force and effect as a judgment, subject to challenge only as provided in this section. The person seeking to rescind the acknowledgment shall, within 60 days of signing the acknowledgment, file a petition in the probate and family court in the county in which the child and one of the parents resides seeking to rescind the acknowledgment, with notice to the other parent. If neither of the parents lives in the same county as the child, then such complaint shall be filed in the county where the child lives. If the child whose paternity is challenged is a recipient of public assistance and the department of transitional assistance, the department of children and families, the division of medical assistance or any other public assistance program has not been made a party, or if the child is receiving child support enforcement services from the IV-D agency pursuant to chapter 119A, the court shall notify the IV-D agency. The person seeking to rescind the acknowledgment shall bear the burden of proof in such proceeding. The responsibilities of a signatory arising from the acknowledgment shall not be suspended during the pendency of such challenge unless the court so orders for good cause shown. If either party rescinds the acknowledgment in a timely fashion, the court shall order genetic marker testing and proceed to adjudicate paternity or nonpaternity in accordance with this chapter; provided, however, that the rescinded acknowledgment shall constitute the proper showing required for an order to submit to such testing; and provided further, that the rescinded acknowledgment shall be admissible as evidence of the putative father’s paternity and shall serve as sufficient basis for admitting the report of the results of genetic marker tests. Upon adjudication of nonpaternity, the court shall instruct the registrar of vital records and statistics as provided in section 13 of chapter 46 to amend the birth record of the child in accordance with the order of the court.

(b) If a mother and father execute a voluntary acknowledgment of parentage as provided in (a), they may also make agreements regarding custody, support and visitation. Such agreements may be filed with any court with jurisdiction pursuant to this chapter; provided, that any such agreement which includes issues of custody or visitation must be filed with a division of the probate and family court department in the judicial district or county in which the child and one of the parents lives. Such agreements, if filed with and approved by the court shall have the same force and effect as a judgment of the court; provided, however, that the court shall have the same power to investigate the facts regarding custody, support and visitation prior to entering an order relative to those issues as it would have if no agreement had been filed; and provided further, that an agreement regarding custody and visitation shall be approved only if the court finds it to be in the best interests of the child.

(c) Voluntary acknowledgments and agreements made pursuant to this chapter shall be acknowledged in the presence of a notary public and shall include the residence addresses and social security numbers of each of the parents, the residence address of the child and, if available, the social security number of the child.

(d) A voluntary acknowledgment of parentage taken outside of the commonwealth shall be valid for the purposes of this section if it was taken in accordance with the laws of the state or the country where it was executed.

Required Probability of Paternity for Massachusetts Courts: 97%
Required Paternity Index: None

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