Paternity cases involving genetic testing are common in the practice of family law. The stakes can get pretty high. A paternity suit ruling affects not just the lives of the parents but their children as well. Since many cases are decided on the results of a court-mandated DNA test, it’s imperative to have professional guidance whether you’re trying to establish paternity or contest it. In this article, we discuss how a lawyer can help with your paternity DNA test.
Learn What a Paternity DNA Test Lawyer Can Do for You
Establishing paternity is rarely as simple as taking a DNA test. While a paternity DNA lawyer cannot influence the results of a genetic test, an attorney can oversee the process to ensure its accuracy and provide solid legal support once the results are in. The family law attorneys at Robinson & Henry are experienced in these matters and are ready to help you achieve a fair outcome. Call 303-688-0944 for your free case assessment.
Reasons to Hire a Paternity DNA Test Lawyer
Paternity is defined as the quality or state of being a father. For the purposes of this article, paternity refers to the determination of which individual is the biological father of a child.
When the paternity of a child cannot be presumed by marriage, and no man comes forward to acknowledge paternity, it must be established by other means. That is when paternity suits, DNA tests, and lawyers typically get involved. Below are four of the most common reasons to hire a paternity lawyer:
- you’re a mother attempting to identify the biological father of a child
- you’re a potential father seeking parental rights
- you’re an alleged father contesting a paternity suit
- you’re a young adult (age 18 to 21) trying to identify your biological father
Why Paternity Must Be Established
Establishing paternity can be a challenge if the child’s parents were not in a monogamous relationship at the time the child was conceived.
Why Mothers File Paternity Suits
Mothers usually know who the biological father of their child is, but they must seek legal and scientific confirmation to get a court to order a man to financially provide for a child.
Of course, a biological father will then likely be entitled to certain privileges such as physical custody and decision-making rights.
Why Potential Fathers Seek to Establish Paternity
A potential father seeking parental rights must establish paternity to get them. Often, this can be achieved with a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form, which is signed by both the father and mother and filed in district court.
If a mother refuses to sign the form, the potential father may then file a paternity suit and submit to DNA testing to establish paternity.
Why Alleged Fathers Contest Paternity
There are lots of reasons why this can happen; sometimes the mother names the wrong man as the father. In any event, a man has the right to contest paternity if he believes he is not the biological father of a child.
Why Young Adults File Paternity Suits
While it’s best to identify the biological father as soon as possible once a child is born, it simply does not always happen. Many children grow up in single-parent or two-parent households never knowing their biological fathers.
Once a child reaches the age of 18, he or she has a right to learn the identity of their biological father, if possible. However, he or she must file an action before their 21st birthday. Children under the age of 18 can have a representative file suit on their behalf, but they cannot do it on their own.
The Importance of DNA Testing
Whether one is seeking to identify a biological father, establish paternity, or refute claims that he is a child’s biological father, a DNA test will almost always be ordered by the court if paternity hasn’t been sought voluntarily.
99.9 Percent Accurate
Current DNA testing procedures can determine paternity with 99.9 percent accuracy. Put simply, DNA test results that are admissible in court tend to be decisive.
If genetic testing determines the alleged father is not biologically related to the child, they will have no legal obligations and/or responsibilities for the child moving forward. However, if genetic testing establishes the alleged father as the biological father, he will have legal obligations to care for the child and will not be permitted to contest paternity again.
What Makes Paternity DNA Test Results Admissible and Decisive
To ensure fairness and accuracy, Colorado courts only accept DNA test results from professional medical or testing facilities.
A court-admissible DNA test requires the following:
- valid genetic samples from the child and any potential or alleged fathers
- any percentage for error in the reliability of the results be established beforehand
- any testing method that cannot promise at least 97 percent accuracy, as mandated in CO Rev Stat § 19-4-105 (2016), will not be admissible for purposes of establishing biological paternity
- the test remains in the proper chain of custody as per standard procedure to ensure results have not been tampered with or tainted
An experienced and knowledgeable Paternity/DNA attorney can oversee each step of the genetic test to make certain it follows court-ordered guidelines. Failure to follow any one of the above guidelines or any others put forth by the court will render the results invalid.
Home or Mail-In DNA Kits
Many companies offer DNA home-testing kits for individuals who want more information about their medical history, personal traits, or family heritage. These kits are attractive because individuals can provide genetic samples from the privacy of their homes, away from prying eyes.
That is the exact reason why these tests are completely inadmissible to family law courts in paternity cases. The potential for tainted or altered test results is simply too high.
Using DNA Results to Challenge Established Paternity
If another man had an intimate relationship with the child’s mother and wishes to challenge the legal father’s claim of paternity, he can file a court action to do so. However, the suit must be brought within 60 days of the legal father having established his paternity.
Otherwise, as Colorado’s courts have held in such cases as People v. R.L.C (Colorado, 2002) and People ex rel. C.L.S. (Colorado App., 2011), not even a DNA test result proving biological heritage can overturn established paternity.
Our Paternity/DNA Test Lawyers are Ready to Represent You
Whether you’re establishing or contesting biological paternity, it is essential to have an experienced family law attorney in your corner. Why? Even if DNA test results prove decisive, an attorney can provide legal guidance on the next steps and make sure you’re treated fairly in any rulings concerning child support, visitation, recouping court costs, and other matters. Call 303-688-0944 for your free case assessment.