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Family Law: Paternity Testing

Determining the paternity of a child falls under the category of family law. On one side of the situation, a woman is asking the courts to determine whether or not a man is the father of her child. On the other hand, a father could be looking to establish his paternity and gain rights for visitation and in some cases, custody. These actions can be contested or non-contested.

Contested Paternity:
There are two different types of contested paternity cases under family law. A private action involves a mother seeking out child support payments or attempting to create a relationship between the child and the potential father. The mother and the potential father will each have their own attorney to make that their rights are protected. The state can also bring up a case to determine the paternity of a child that is going to be receiving some type of aid from the state.

In both cases, the man has the option to contest the paternity test. In the same way, if a man is bringing a case against a woman to allow him access or visitation of a child that he believes is his, the woman can contest the paternity test and refuse to name the man as the father.

Non-Contested Paternity:
In some cases, both people want to know that a man is the biological father or a child. Once paternity is established, the man gains not only the rights that come along with being the father under family law, but also the responsibility including financial support. Typically these proceedings take less time, as both people want to know whom the father is.

A paternity test is often administered by using a swab on the side of the potential father's mouth. This person is often referred to as the putative father. (It means that the man is "generally regarded" as the child's father.) The lab that handles the test must have an American Association of Blood Bank accreditation.

Once paternity is established, family law lists out some of the parameters of the relationship. However, people still spend time working out the details and deciding how the relationship will continue. In some cases, the two parties can work things out, create a cordial relationship and share custody and financial responsibility of the child. On the other hand, once paternity is determined, often people continue to settle the matters in court, looking to draw out the boundaries of the relationship.

If you are going to be involved in a case that deals with family law and paternity, it is important to find an attorney with knowledge and experience in these types of situations. Even if you are a potential father that plans to comply with the request, it is worth having a lawyer on your side.

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