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Determining the need for DNA paternity testing

It's fairly common for DNA testing to be involved in family law cases in Texas when there are questions about parentage. Sometimes during divorce, people question whether they are actually their children's biological parent. Paternity can also become an issue if couples were unmarried when a child was conceived. In situations like this, a father is not automatically considered a child's legal father. In fact, an "alleged father" does not have to be listed on a birth certificate as a father unless he has been legally determined to be so.

DNA test results are important because they often determine whether child support is awarded or denied. Since DNA testing today has a nearly 100 percent accuracy rate, there are times when results could relieve a man of the burden of child support if it's determined that he is not a child's biological father. It's when DNA testing has identified a man as the father of a child that support becomes legally required by the court.

As for how DNA paternity is carried out, one option is for individuals to directly initiate a legal paternity test with an acceptable laboratory. Other times, a state agency or a judge may issue a paternity order to force an alleged father to submit to a DNA test. This type of testing might be required during a divorce if there is a need to positively identify a noncustodial parent as the father. Samples are usually collected by swabs or blood tests. Testing can also be done to establish maternity.

A family law attorney can take appropriate actions when there are issues concerning parentage. For instance, a lawyer might obtain a court order on behalf of a client to require a suspected father to be DNA tested. Parents may also sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form. If parentage has already been established, and there are issues with delinquent payments for child support, an attorney may make an effort to resolve the situation amicably. Should this not be possible, a referral may be made to state and local child support agencies for further action.

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