Paternity cases are similar to divorce cases in that they involve the issues of child custody and child support. Paternity cases differ from divorce cases in that there is no issue of spousal support and the parties do not have to wait six months to obtain a judgment.
Many paternity cases involve a determination whether a person is in fact the child’s father. The most common method by which paternity is by a court ordered DNA test. In order to be accepted by a court a DNA test must be ordered by the court. A DNA test done prior to a court order will NOT be accepted by the court as proof of paternity.
Another twist in paternity cases is that even if a DNA test establishes that a person is the biological parent of a child that person may not be recognized by the court as the child’s legal parent. Conversely, even if a DNA test establishes that a person is NOT the biological parent of a child the court can nonetheless rule that the person is the parent legally in some cases. There are several factors which a court looks at when deciding whether a person who is not a biological parent will be found to be the legal parent:
- whether the non-biological parent and the biological parent were married at the time of conception;
- how long the non-biological parent has takes to bring a paternity case;
- whether the non-biological parent holds himself out publicly as the father of the child; and
- whether the non-biological parent and the biological parent were living together at the time of conception.
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