When a child is born out of wedlock, a paternity case may be filed by the biological mother or father so that the father of the child may be declared the legal father by a court. A paternity case may be filed for biological fathers who want to establish their rights, or by biological mothers who want to enforce the obligations of a biological father.
A paternity case may be disputed. The common way to dispute a paternity case filed by either the biological mother or father of a minor child is to request DNA paternity testing.
Most courts will order DNA testing if it is requested by either party, but there are some factors to consider. For example, if you wait too long after the issue of paternity has already been decided by a court, this could affect the outcome of your case.
Many parents who are facing a custody or paternity case wonder what will happen if they request a DNA test to compare the DNA profile of a parent with that of their minor child. There are some risks, benefits, and costs to consider when it comes to requesting DNA testing in a paternity or child custody case.
Requesting a Paternity Test
If a paternity case has been filed by you or you have been served with paperwork regarding an ongoing paternity case, you have a right to request DNA testing. A DNA test involves the collection of DNA samples from you and a minor child for comparison by an expert.
You may request DNA test confirmation of paternity by filing a motion in court. If you are the biological father of a minor child who has filed a paternity case to establish your rights, the biological mother may request DNA testing to dispute your status as the biological father
If you want to request paternity testing, ensure that you do so in such a way that is compliant with previous court orders as well as evidentiary requirements regarding the admissibility of the results of the testing.
There are many commercial services available that can provide you results of a DNA test which are not official. For official results, examine the most recent court order, consult an attorney, and contact your local state agency or any testing center that is mentioned in the order. Requesting testing at a facility that is not court approved can be a waste of time and money.
Opposing Paternity Testing
In some cases, it may be necessary to oppose paternity testing. Courts will typically order the other side to pay for testing when it turns out the test was unnecessary.
If you have already been paying child support and a court has adjudicated you as the legal father of a minor child, it may be possible to contest paternity testing on the basis that you have already been declared a child's legal father by a court.
What may happen in your case will depend on many facts, so it is important to consult an attorney. If you have previously agreed to an order regarding paternity, for example, this is a different situation than if you have never been requested by a court or the other biological parent in your case to submit to paternity testing.
Paternity and Child Support
If you are declared the legal father of a minor child, you will likely be ordered to pay child support until the child becomes an adult. In some cases, you may be ordered to pay child support until the child graduates from college or high school.
If you are awarded primary custody of a minor child. you will not be ordered to pay child support in some cases. However, if there is a disparity between your income and that of the biological mother of the minor child, you may be ordered to pay child support.
You may also be ordered to pay medical expenses related to the birth of your child. Whether or not you will be ordered to pay these expenses will depend on many factors, such as how long ago your child was born compared to when a petition to establish paternity was filed and whether or not you can provide proof that you have previously paid for any expenses.
If you have a minor child that you know that you may need to pay support for in the future, you may still legally have an obligation to pay support even prior to the entry of a court order. Keep in mind that a court may order back payments and that you may be asked to make payments for support prior to the entry of a court order if you are a member of the U.S. military.
Effects of Disproving Paternity
If you contest the paternity of a minor child, be aware of what could occur whether or not a DNA test proves that you were the minor child or not.
You may be ordered by a court to pay for the costs of testing, especially if you are proven by the test not to be the biological parent of a minor child. The person who requests testing may be ordered to pay for the initial costs and may be reimbursed if it is proven that the test is unnecessary.
A risk of disproving paternity is that your parental rights may be terminated by a court. Your obligation to pay child support may be terminated, but you will also lose important rights to request custody or visitation of a minor child.
Custody Disputes and Paternity Testing
Before a court will make decisions regarding custody and visitation regarding a minor child, the court will make a decision regarding paternity. If you are considering disputing paternity in your divorce, paternity or custody, do not wait until a court has already declared you the legal parent of a child by acknowledgment. Once you have established paternity by acknowledgment it can be too late in many cases to contest this determination.
Contact an Experienced North Carolina Child Custody Attorney
Do you have questions about paternity testing in North Carolina? Contact the experienced paternity and child custody attorneys and the Caulder & Valentine Law Firm by calling (704) 470-2440 or fill out our online form.