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The issues surrounding paternity can have wide reaching implications, often involving such matters as child support , custody , visitation, and/or health care. Consequently, establishing paternity, or identifying the legal father of a child, can sometimes be a contentious issue with regard to divorce.
Paternity Actions and DNA Testing
Either the mother or the father of the child can file a legal suit to determine the paternity of a child. This is a civil action commonly referred to as a paternity action . Most states require “a preponderance of evidence,” to establish paternity. This essentially means that the man in question must be more likely than not (50.01 percent) the father of the child. Other states need more convincing evidence of paternity. The advent of DNA testing has ultimately made such distinctions irrelevant. A DNA test can positively determine paternity with 99.9 percent accuracy and rule it out with 100 percent accuracy.
Determining paternity usually depends on the circumstances of the case and thus requires a number of important legal distinctions . They include:
*It is important to note that some states consider this distinction conclusive, meaning that it cannot be negated even in light of future contradictory evidence (including blood tests) .
Legal Ramifications of Paternity
Each of these distinctions has certain legal ramifications, including the obligation to pay child support. When is a man required to pay child support?
• If he has been established as the acknowledged father.
• If he is considered an equitable parent and has been granted custody or visitation.
• If he is deemed an unwed father.
• If he is a stepfather who legally adopted the child.
• If he is the presumed father of a child.
If you have questions or concerns regarding the paternity of a child, it is wise to seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney who can help you understand your rights and determine a course of action . Contact us for a FREE consultation with one of our qualified divorce and family law attorneys.
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