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Divorce & Family Law: Litigation, Mediation, Collaborative

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Using DNA when establishing paternity

On Behalf of | May 1, 2020 | Child Custody |

If you are a North Carolina dad who wants an active part in your child’s life after splitting from your partner, it can be challenging if you were not wed to the mom. Only mothers have automatic parental rights. As an unmarried father, you must establish paternity before you can claim visitation or custody rights. We often advocate for clients’ paternity rights through negotiations as well as in court. 

DNA Diagnostics Center states that labs and home test kits can determine a child’s biological father.  While both types of tests can offer peace of mind, the court typically accepts only lab tests as authentic. 

Paternity benefits 

Establishing the biological relationship with your child provides the opportunity for you to have visitation and custody rights. Having the mother’s approval can make the process easier but is not a requirement. Children benefit emotionally when they have a strong bond with both parents. As a legally established parent, you can provide for them financially. When they are young, you can look after their welfare through child support payments. However, your kids can also receive social security, insurance and veterans’ benefits. 

DNA tests 

While home test kits may indicate the parental relationship through the tested DNA, there is no proof the sample is yours. Courts only accept results that have a documented chain of custody. This requires that qualified DNA testers supervise the entire process. An impartial third-party checks your identification, takes your sample, completes paperwork and submits it to a certified lab. 

If you do not establish paternity, the biological connection to your child may be in doubt. Even if you list him or her in your will, the authenticity of the relationship may be in question, and the court could disallow inheritance.