Many divorce cases in California involving disputes over paternity end up being settled with DNA testing. And if child support is a factor, it’s not unusual for this type of testing to be required. This is because DNA analysis has now reached a point where results are nearly 100 percent accurate. It’s also a step that may be necessary if a child was conceived when parents weren’t married since the father is not automatically considered the legal dad in situations like this – he’s typically referred to as the “alleged father.”

Oftentimes, conclusive DNA results are all that’s required for a court to order a confirmed father to pay child support. On the other hand, a man who is currently making support payments may be relieved of this burden if results show he is not a child’s biological father. DNA test results can also be reason enough for a court to grant a confirmed dad visitation rights and/or custody of a child. Additionally, some fathers identified with DNA testing step up and assume their role, even if there is no significant relationship with the other parent.

In most states, testing to determine parental responsibilities or payment obligations can be initiated by individuals through an American Association of Blood Banks (AABA) laboratory. It’s also possible for parents to voluntarily co-sign an acknowledgment of paternity form. Should there be resistance to testing, a state agency or court may issue a paternity order. During a divorce, DNA testing might be ordered to positively ID non-custodial parents and make sure they are living up to their obligations.

Even after DNA testing has determined paternity, a lawyer may become involved in a child support dispute if other issues apply. With minor matters that might include unintentionally late payments, an attorney may attempt to resolve the matter without turning to state agencies or courts. If payments are missed entirely by a non-custodial parent, a back child support order may be issued to collect. Should circumstances change that prevent a parent from making full payments, a lawyer may recommend seeking an appropriate modification of a child support agreement.