Dispute of Parentage  (2 of 3)

photo courtesy Sam Hatch and sxu

If there is a question of parentage among more than one man, or if a person should dispute a claim of fatherhood, parentage can also be determined by administrative procedures following a regime of genetic analysis.  Person(s) identified as the father may voluntarily yield to submit a DNA sample for testing or be requested by either party through the court, or by an order of the Child Support Enforcement office to submit a DNA sample for testing. Genetic tests are highly accurate biological processes conducted on blood or tissue samples which compare the similarity of DNA between the man, mother and the children. Biological results are very accurate ranging from 95% to 99% probability of parentage.  Genetic tests can also statistically exclude a man who is not the biological father. 

A Statistical "Match"

In the instance of a statistical “match”, a legal presumption of parentage is established. If both parents agree to the results and sign an affidavit acknowledging paternity, the parents can avoid the effort and expense of court proceedings to legally establish parentage for the children.  Upon signing the affidavit acknowledging paternity form at the hospital when the baby is born, the father's name will usually be indicated on the baby's birth certificate. The unmarried parents must tell the hospital staff what name(s) they want for the children.   With agreement of the mother, the baby may have the father's last name.  There is also a newly emerging consideration that is also beginning to play out in the courts. With more women keeping their names after marriage and some identifying the baby by the mother’s name on the birth certificate instead of the father, divorce proceedings may become more difficult when deciding appropriate custody and access.



It is also important to know that signing an Affidavit acknowledging paternity does not automatically ensure the father will be granted visitation or custody. The father may, however, use this acknowledgment to establish a legal relationship in asking the court to support these rights.

Affidavits Denying Parentage

photo courtesy Aneta Blaszczyk and sxu

In those few, but complicated situations when the mother is married but has a child from a man other than her husband, the state will generally assume the husband is also the biological (natural) father and will reflect his name on the child(ren)’s birth certificate.  If the husband and mother agree, and/or genetic testing supports the claim of another man being father to the child(ren), the mother and husband must complete a notarized affidavit denying the husband’s parentage.  If accomplished and provided to hospital staff before the birth certificate is filed, the name of the biological father will be indicated on the birth certificate.  The biological father must first however, acknowledge parentage and complete the affidavit affirming same.  If these steps are not accomplished before the birth certificate is filed, the husband’s name will usually be indicated requiring a subsequent court order to change the name recorded on the birth certificate from the husband to the biological father.

Although great legal and scientific reliance is made on the accuracy of genetic testing, either party may dispute the original test results and request a second, independent testing of additionally provided genetic samples.  Generally, if the state orders the tests, the state must pay the cost of the testing. However, if the person who previously disputed the claim of being the father is legally established by testing to be the father, the state may charge for any costs incurred.

NOTE: Many men fail to respond to legal processes to establish paternity. In some cases that papers are delivered to an old address, or to a relative. Ignoring the legal process is a dangerous and foolish proposition. DNA tests will determine accurately who isn't the father.  However, if the man in question runs, the court may still enter an order and after the passage of a specified period of time that order may not be set aside legally.


Again, if a father questions his parentage of child(ren) to an unmarried woman, or will not voluntarily acknowledge parentage or submit to genetic testing, such dispute may proceed to court where a judge can order such person or persons, to submit to genetic testing.  If the accused father fails to respond to a formal complaint properly served upon him, a default judgment could be entered in court record establishing paternity and a court order for support may be issued. If the parent has disappeared and left the state, Federal Parent Locator services can be initiated to help find him.

National legislation also directs the states to give “full faith and credit” to determinations of parentage made by other states in accordance with their laws and regulations.  An exception to this process rule may be executed if the alleged father denies parentage and actively serving on a naval vessel or is deployed to a military base abroad.  The parent, court of local CSE office may be required to wait until the person returns to the United States for genetic testing to be accomplished and a decision rendered.


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