Paternity, in simple terms, can be defined as the quality or state of being a father. The person wanting to establish paternity through the required test can either be the mother, father, or child. The reason can be simply for one’s own peace of mind, or due to certain legal situations arising. The legal paternity test results are accepted by the court because a third party, with no vested interest, is involved in its supervision, collection, and documentation. A “DNA Collector,” supervises the whole process from the start to the end, which also includes checking the participants’ identities, witnessing the handling of swabs taken from the cheeks of the concerned parties, and proper documentation and dispatching of the sample to the lab. This helps discount the possibility of fraudulent tampering of the sample and documentation and ensures that the correct results are presented to the court. A person can refuse to take the court-ordered paternity test, but it can have legal consequences. The court can hold the alleged father in contempt of court for violating a court order.
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Here is an overview, of the top 5 reasons why people might require a legal paternity test
Child Custody and Child Support
Before a child custody and child support, an order is issued by the court, certain considerations have to be examined first. If a child is conceived and/or born while the said couple is married: In this case, the man is automatically deemed to be the legal father of the child and he ends up being responsible for bearing the financial and legal responsibility for the child.
- If the couple separate and get a divorce
Even in this case, the man is still considered, by law, to be legally and financially responsible for the child, even if the paternity test determines that the man is not the biological father. This is because if he has signed the birth certificate or acknowledged his paternity earlier in the marriage, this puts the responsibility on his shoulders to bear the financial burden of the child.
Another aspect of this picture is, once a couple gets a divorce, when their child is very young, and the child is then raised by another man, who assumes the father’s role in his life, this child (when they grow up) often needs to meet and to develop a relationship with their biological father. Legal paternity tests done in authentic labs are an important step in helping such children find their biological fathers.
- If the couple is not married
It becomes mandatory to establish a legal relationship between the father and the child before the court gives its verdict for child custody or child support. If a man has doubts whether he is the biological father of a child, it is best to engage the legal system and get a legal paternity test, before signing a birth certificate or acknowledging paternity. Signature of these documents will make the involved man responsible for child support or custody arrangements. Usually, such situations arise where a mother files a paternity suit against a man, claiming that he is the biological father of her child. A legal paternity test can prove the authenticity of the claim, and the mother can earn child support for their child. Similarly, the presumed father can file a case against the mother for custody or visitation rights because the mother is denying access to the child. Again, a legal paternity test, after confirming their biological relationship, can grant the father his rights.
When someone passes away, sometimes situations arise which end in inheritance disputes. The alleged heirs may be known or unknown children of the deceased, and who are filing a claim to an inheritance.The claimant can be a minor or an adult, and the inheritance rights may or may not be in dispute but a legal paternity test, undoubtedly, resolves any doubts, efficiently and effectively, through the legal system. This test ensures that the right people get what is legally and rightfully theirs. Results of a legal paternity test, in such cases, are court admissible, should the situation so arise.
DNA is the definite answer to the question regarding uncertain family relationships. For confirming biological relationship for immigration purposes, a detailed paper trail is necessary and in cases where this documentation is absent or incomplete, where birth certificates and supporting documents are unavailable, governments use legal paternity and even maternity tests to confirm closely related family members. Although paternity and maternity testing are commonly used for immigration purposes, if the father is not available, then siblings and grandparents’ DNA testing, is employed. First, paternal grandparents’ DNA testing is recommended, but if they are not available, then sibling DNA test can be used to indirectly determine if there are any close family relationships, including paternity. Thus, this will determine whether an individual shares one or both parents with a sibling. As with other DNA tests, an immigration paternity test requires that DNA collection and submission to the lab be witnessed. Only then will the results be validated by the legal system.
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Apart from the belongings and money, the death of a biological father or mother usually leaves behind other assets also in the shape of Social Security benefits and life insurance payouts. To acquire these, again, a beneficiary has to provide proof of paternity. In such cases, the government or the concerned insurance company can order a legal paternity test, to ensure that the claimant has a biological relationship with the deceased. It is seen that legal paternity testing is much simpler in these cases than trying to locate and provide related paper documentation. The procedure followed in these cases involves a medical examiner collecting a DNA sample, as ordered by the court, and submitting it to an accredited lab. This DNA evidence provides the necessary proof of paternity for the legal system. This procedure is authentic and eradicates the need to research, locate and produce relevant documents as proof of paternity.
The Need to Know One’s Roots
There are certain situations which arise in people’s lives which lead them to want to determine their roots, find close blood relations, and seek out close family members. This is particularly pertinent in the case of children who are adopted or conceived with the help of a donor. As the child grows up and they begin to understand the circumstances of their adoption or birth, the urge, and curiosity to find and to make a connection with their biological parents can become extremely strong.It has been documented that a large number of clients associated with paternity testing, fall under this group and they are searching for the birth mothers and birth fathers. Generally, these paternity tests are not used for any legal purpose but are in fact just for the peace of mind of that individual and to satisfy the curiosity to know the identity of their biological parents. But there have been instances, when certain benefits, like immigration, social security, inheritance, etc., are involved, and thus, legal paternity tests become mandatory.