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Paternity Laws

Paternity, under the law, is the legal acknowledgment of a parental relationship between a man and a child.

How Is Paternity Determined?

When a wife gives birth to a child during a marriage is the husband’s child under the presumption of legitimacy, and therefore the husband is assigned complete rights, duties and obligations to the child. This presumption can be rebutted by evidence to the contrary, at least prior to a formal court ruling involving the putative paternity (usually a decree of divorce, annulment, or legal separation).

In the case of an unwed mother, a man may come forward and accept the paternity of the child, the mother may petition the court for a determination, or paternity can be determined by estoppel over time. A successful application to the court results in an order assigning paternity to a specific man, possibly including support responsibility and/or visitation rights.

Where the paternity of the child is in question, either party may seek to prove the validity of the relationship between the man and the child based on upon testimony and evidence. The most compelling pieces of evidence is a paternity test . A court order is not necessary to test the child and the alleged father in most cases.

Some paternity laws assign full parental responsibility to fathers even in cases of women lying about contraception, or using deceit, such as oral sex followed by self artificial insemination (State of Louisiana v. Frisard) or statutory rape by a woman (Hermesmann v. Seyer).

Other Methods To Establish Paternity

If the suspected father is not available for testing, paternity can be established through a sibling DNA test, a DNA grandparentage test, or an avuncular DNA test using a full brother or sister of the suspected father. In the event the alleged father is deceased, it may be possible to obtain a DNA sample from the Medical Examiner if an autopsy was done, to establish legal paternity using a tissue or blood sample. If you have questions on establishing paternity without the father’s DNA sample, please talk with one of our Genetic Consultants at 1-855-362-5224,

What Is Paternity Fraud?

Paternity fraud happens when the mother of a child intentionally identifies a man as the biological father of her child when she knows that he is not the real biological father. This is often done so the mother can collect child support. Paternity fraud has many victims, including the non-biological father, the biological father, the families of both men, and most certainly the innocent child.

Our home paternity test kit, and our legal paternity test, are both easy to order. This means that those with a suspicion that paternity fraud has occurred have an easy way to confirm this fraudulent action. May times a person’s “gut feeling” turns out to be true. It has been established by the numerous independent studies that almost 1 out of every 3.5 men who submit to a paternity test each year discover they are not the biological father of the child, no matter what their marital relationship was at the time of conception.

A judge may choose to vacate a voluntary paternity acknowledgement if you can demonstrate fraud, duress, or a material mistake of fact. Proving fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact to vacate the acknowledgment is that the laws and court rulings of each state vary so be sure to consult with a licensed attorney. In almost all cases to demonstrate paternity fraud, a paternity test will be required. In some jurisdictions, you may be able to obtain an order requiring the biological father reimburse you for the amount you have already paid in support, if your acknowledgment is voided.

Paternity Laws In Your State

Listed below are links to a summary of each states paternity statutes and laws. Please click on the state of interest for additional information. This information is not legal advice, and is provided for personal information only. If you have questions about paternity law in your state, we recommend you contact an attorney for legal aide in your area.

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