- Is he really?parents watching image by Galina Barskaya from Fotolia.com
In certain circumstances, it is necessary to legally establish the paternity of a child during a civil proceeding, according to the Find Law website. When issues of health care, child support, custody and visitation, adoption or inheritance arise, establishing paternity is a requirement of the law in most states.
- When establishing paternity, most states require that the father's identity be determined by a "preponderance of the evidence." New York, however, requires "clear and convincing" evidence of paternity, according to the Find Law website.
Most of these state requirements have now become moot or of little impact since the introduction of DNA testing, however. A father's paternity can be determined with more than 99 percent accuracy with a DNA test, which can be done before the child is born. Once the paternity issue has been settled through the court system other issues such as child support may be addressed.
- Laws by which paternity is established vary from state to state, according to the U.S. Legal Forms website. Over the years a number of "Uniform Acts" have been established in regard to adoption issues such as the Uniform Parentage Act of 1973, the Uniform Act on Paternity of 1960 and the Uniform Putative and Unknown Fathers Act of 1988.
Those who have the ability to challenge paternity which leads to court involvement include the mother, alleged father or even the child himself after he is of legal age. Some states have restrictions to the time period in which a parent may file to legally establish paternity. These vary from state to state, anywhere from no time limit at all to five years beyond the child's 18th birthday.
- DNA testing is not done on a routine basis or with every court case. In fact, most cases are settled out of court or through a settlement agreement prior to trial, according to the U.S. Legal Forms website. When a party to the action contests paternity, this is when a DNA test may be ordered through the courts. Contesting paternity generally arises when there is an issue as to the payment of child support or if the alleged father wishes to obtain custody of or visitation rights with the child. This is another circumstance when a DNA test may be ordered by the court. Financial and emotional implications may arise when paternity is contested and legally established, therefore consultation with a family lawyer is recommended.