What are the Basic Paternity Testing Laws?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 22 March 2020
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A paternity test may be ordered when a woman wants to prove that a particular man is her child's father, as well as when a man wants to find out if a child is biologically his. In most cases, this kind of test is necessary for financial purposes, and may also be used by a state before providing aid to the child's caretaker. Though there are tests available to take at home just to satisfy curiosity, paternity testing laws assert that only tests taken at court-approved locations are official. There are various situations that call for a paternity test in order to solve a matter legally, but it should be known that specific paternity testing laws vary by state.


One of the most common reasons for establishing paternity is for financial help. A mother who wants child support often needs to prove that a certain man is the father, especially if he denies it. This is particularly important when applying for state aid, as the majority of states refuse to offer financial help to a mother who has not tried to get child support from the child's father. In fact, if the father cannot be located, most states have measures in place to try to find him. It should not be surprising that after being tracked down, some men may try to avoid paying child support by claiming that they are not the father, at which point the state's paternity testing laws come into play so that the child can be financially supported.

Paternity tests can also be of great help to men who want to find out if a child is actually theirs. A man who suspects that a child is not biologically his may want to avoid paying child support. Paternity testing laws require that he take a test at a court-approved location in order to avoid paying for a child that is not his. On the other hand, when a man suspects that a particular child is in fact his own offspring, he may request to take a paternity test to prove it. As long as he follows all paternity testing laws for his state, he may acquire both rights and financial responsibility for the child.

When a test is ordered by a court, or requested by a parent in order to deny financial responsibility, it must be taken at a court-approved location. Paternity testing laws require that DNA be collected only by an approved official, such as a laboratory employee. It must not be handled by either parent in order to prevent possible tampering. For this reason, the results of home testing kits are not accepted by most courts, and should be considered useful only to satisfy personal curiosity about who the father is.


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