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How is Paternity Testing Performed?

When a child’s father is not known, the child’s mother can file a court order to have a paternity test performed. In a situation in which a man who believes he is or might not be the child’s father or if another relative has custody of the child, one of these parties can order a paternity test. Paternity testing can provide the answers a child’s family needs and aid them in making decisions about the child’s custody.

Prenatal Paternity Testing

It is possible to determine a child’s paternity before he or she is born. There are a different tests for this:

  • Amniocentesis. During the second trimester of pregnancy, amniotic fluid can be drawn from the uterus and tested to determine the child’s paternity and other potential issues;
  • Chorionic Villus Sampling. Like with amniocentesis, this test involves a thin needle to draw a sample from the uterus. But instead of amniotic fluid, chorionic villus sampling involves small pieces of tissue known as chorionic villi, which share genetic information with the fertilized egg; and
  • Non-invasive Prenatal Paternity testing. The most accurate way to determine paternity before birth, this test uses a sample of the fetus’ DNA from the mother’s bloodstream and blood samples from the mother and potential father to determine a match.

Postnatal Paternity Testing

A paternity test can also be performed on an infant or child. If a paternity test is requested at the time of the infant’s delivery, often a sample is taken from the newborn’s umbilical cord for testing. When a request is made later in a child’s life, a blood sample or a cheek swab may be used to determine the child’s parentage.

Why is Establishing Paternity Important?

Establishing a child’s paternity can be an important part of establishing parental rights to the child, which grant a parent the following rights:

  • The right to seek custody of the child;
  • The right to establish child support for the child;
  • The right to cover the child with his or her health insurance;
  • The child’s right to inherit the parent’s property after his or her death and the right to access the parent’s veteran benefits; and
  • The right to be notified about any action the child’s other parent attempts to take involving him or her, such as moving out of state, having a new spouse adopt the child, or placing the child for adoption.

Being biologically related to a child does not guarantee any amount of love and commitment to him or her, but it can strengthen the bond between a parent and child. There is also no guarantee that the court will grant parental rights to an individual simply because he is a child’s biological father. If the court determines that granting parental rights to an individual is not in the child’s best interest, biological relation cannot overrule this.

Work with an Experienced Family Lawyer

Talk to an experienced family lawyer about your right to seek a paternity test for your child. Beyond legal issues, knowing your child’s parentage is critical to knowing his or her health risks now and in the future. Contact our team at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd today to schedule your initial consultation with us.

Published October 1, 2017
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