Court-Ordered Paternity Testing
Paternity tests serve to identify the biological father of a child. While many individuals undergo these tests of their own volition, there are times when a court requires a paternity test in a legal proceeding.
When it comes to these legal matters, you need a partner you can trust. ARCPoint Labs offers these services in an accurate, reliable, and confidential manner with the help of knowledgeable, credentialed, and qualified staff.
Read on to learn more about paternity testing for court cases and legal purposes.
When Is Paternity Testing Legally Required?
Generally, a paternity test is legally required whenever requested by the judge in a case. There are a variety of reasons why a judge could order a paternity test.
Child Custody & Visitation Cases
In the instance of child custody and visitation, a judge may rule that a paternity test is required to determine the case's outcome. Generally, a child conceived in wedlock is presumed to be the biological child of the father. But if the couple is unmarried, the judge can use testing to establish that the father and child have a biological link.
Child Support Cases
Much of the same applies to child support cases. To rule a father responsible for paying support, the court needs to prove biological paternity. The easiest way to do so is usually genetic testing.
Other Situations Where Legal DNA Testing May Be Needed
While child custody and child support tend to be the most common, there are several other circumstances where it may be legally necessary.
- Changing father listed on a birth certificate
- Changing a will or estate
- Proving the right of inheritance
- Obtaining social security benefits
- Father wants to adopt the child
What Is the Process for Court-Ordered Paternity Testing?
While the specifics may vary by state, the general process for court-ordered paternity testing remains the same. The judge will take into account any facts which may prove a biological link to a parent. However, if there is not enough proof of paternity through other methods like the birth certificate or a signed affidavit, the judge will probably proceed to DNA testing.
Uncertainty about parentage may arise for a number of reasons. Some common reasons are listed below.
Presumed Father Has Not Signed Birth Certificate
Sometimes, a mother fails to list the father on the child's birth certificate. In this case, a paternity test is required for the court to be able to make an informed decision.
Presumed Father is Not Married to the Mother
Parentage must be established before proceedings can proceed if the parents are unmarried at the time of birth or when the court case is initiated. Typically, when a child is born to unmarried parents, the father must sign a Paternity Acknowledgment. This form may be signed at any point until the child turns 18. If the father fails to sign this document, a judge may order a paternity test.
Presumed Father Will Not Admit Parentage or Sign Affidavit of Parentage
In other cases, a father might refuse to admit their relationship to the child. To continue with court matters and make a ruling, the judge may order a paternity test.
The Court Orders a DNA Test of Father, Mother, & Child
If the court cannot establish paternity through other means, they will order a paternity test. This involves collecting a cheek swab from the father, mother, and child. Throughout this process, a third-party individual must be present to ensure the sample is valid and untampered with — they are a witness to the chain of custody.
From there, the samples are tested, and results should be expected within 4-8 weeks.
Who Can File a for a Paternity Case
Generally, anyone who is acting in the interest of the child may begin court proceedings for paternity. This may include any of the following parties:
- Child's Representative
- Adoption agency
- Department of Child Support Services
Why Is Chain of Custody Part of Legal Paternity Tests?
Chain of custody is an essential aspect of paternity testing because it helps ensure the test results' integrity and accuracy. In a paternity test, the chain of custody refers to the documentation and handling of the DNA samples from the time they are collected until they are analyzed in the laboratory. This documentation is necessary for two reasons:
- Identifying the individuals whose DNA is being tested.
- Checking the samples for contamination and tampering.
By maintaining a strict chain of custody, laboratories can provide accurate and reliable results that can be used in legal proceedings, such as child custody cases.
Read more: Chain of Custody and Why It's Important in Paternity Testing
Can a Court-Ordered Test Be Completed with an At-Home Test Kit?
No. An at-home test is not permissible in court as it does not follow the necessary chain of custody.
Who Pays for a Court-Ordered Paternity Test?
The court will determine who is responsible for the cost of a paternity test. In most cases where paternity is proven, the father will cover the cost of testing. The requesting party will take on the costs if paternity is not proven. If either party cannot pay at the testing time, the court may cover the costs, provided they are paid back.
Can You Refuse a Court-Ordered Test?
While you are not legally obligated to take a paternity test, a judge may likely hold you in contempt of court, resulting in a fine or jail time. In some cases, a judge may assume this refusal is proof of parenthood and establish paternity without further litigation.
For non-court-ordered testing, you can refuse a request from other parties, such as the mother or the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. This will likely lead to filing a lawsuit and a court-ordered paternity test.
Are Blood Tests Used for Proving Paternity?
Blood tests can prove parentage; however, they are rarely used. The buccal swab is a much more convenient and less invasive collection method and is, therefore, the more popular choice.
Contact ARCpoint Labs for Court Admissible Testing
Court-ordered DNA testing can have a big impact on the outcome of a case, which is why accuracy and reliability are critical. ARCpoint Labs understands that in order to be legally admissible, a strict chain-of-custody procedure must be followed. Each of our employees has the required procedure and protocol training for legally admissible collections and we are partnered with testing laboratories with the same high standards for accuracy and reliability.
*Services vary by location. Contact your local ARCpoint Labs for additional information.
DNA, alcohol, and drug testing is often required by courts and legal entities, and the results can significantly impact the outcomes of cases. ARCpoint Labs is the partner they can trust. All of our employees are trained in the proper protocols and procedures for legally admissible collections, including a strict chain-of-custody procedure. Whether you’re an attorney, judge, social worker, or another individual looking for court-admissible results, we will provide the accuracy and reliability you need.