The paternity of the father of the child must be established in a court of law in most child support cases of an unmarried father and mother before support can be ordered or collected.
Proof of paternity of the father is generally done by performing genetic testing on the mother, the child, and the alleged father. Once the test is completed, the results are scientifically determined. If paternity is established with a “match”, a child support order for the child or children generally follows.
Determining child paternity is often sought when during a marriage or relationship infidelity is suspected or discovered, or in the aftermath of a brief sexual encounter between the man and woman.
Determining or validating the paternity of a child is important because any issue regarding the upbringing and support of a child will be directly impacted by the result. Additionally, a negative paternity result will also relieve a man who is not the biological father from being held financially for a child that is not their own.
In the event the child is born out of wedlock, determining paternity is the only way to legally establish a man as the biological father. In today's age of DNA, simply listing a man's name on the birth certificate is not legally binding for parental rights or support.
After the paternity of a child has been properly determined, all child-related issues may be addressed with the biological father as they relate to the marriage, during a divorce, separation, break-up, or out of wedlock parental responsibility.
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