5 Things To Think About Before Requesting A Paternity Test

Posted on: 9 February 2015

If a significant other from your past comes forward and tells you that she has a child that may be yours, you will most likely be confused, hurt, and angry. Emotionally, it is not the best to make decisions immediately after you receive this news, but in order to ensure your legal rights as a father, you may have to start making decisions sooner than you would like. Some of the decisions you will have to make involve whether you will want to legally establish your paternity, and whether you will request a paternity test before doing so. 

Many men think that their next step is to order a paternity test, but you should consult a family lawyer before doing so, and consider these five questions. 

Does Your State Require a Paternity Test? 

Not all states require putative fathers to obtain a paternity test before they can legally claim to be the child's father, but many do. Before you file a legal claim regarding your parental rights, you will need to find out what your state requires for you to claim fatherhood of your supposed child. Often, both you and the mother acknowledging your paternity in a court procedure is enough to get the process started. 

Will the Mother Willingly Allow The Child to Have a Paternity Test? 

There may be many reasons the mother will not allow a paternity test. She may be offended that you are requesting one, may be unsure whether you are the father, or may know you are the father and not want you involved. In this case, you may have to file a petition for the court to order a paternity test. If the child has a presumed father that you wish to dispute, you generally have until the child is five years old to request a paternity test. If there is no recognized father, then you may file a petition at any time. 

How Will Your Child Feel About the Paternity Test? 

If your child is old enough to understand that they are undergoing a paternity test, it may be emotionally difficult for them. Although you requesting a paternity test often has more to do with the legal system and your relationship with the child's mother, a child may see it as you not believing that they are yours and you not wanting to be part of their life. If your child is young, these insecurities can surface many years after the paternity test. 

If you can, you should talk to your child about the paternity test and reassure them that it is only for legal matters. If the test comes back negative and you have a relationship with the child, you need to be prepared to explain how that relationship will or will not change. 

Is There a Possibility for Adoption? 

If there is a possibility that the mother will put your child up for adoption and you want to prevent this or be involved in the process, then you need to establish your paternity s soon as possible. A paternity test is a good way to do this, but you may also have to prove support and a relationship with the mother, or thwarting of your attempts to support the mother, if you want to maintain your rights. 

Are You Prepared to Take On The Legal Obligations of a Father?

Once the results are in, the mother of your child can file petitions for you to provide support for your child. If she hid the child from you, it is unlikely that she will be awarded retroactive child support, but there is a possibility. Before requesting a paternity test, you need to be financially prepared for a positive result. 

Before agreeing to a paternity test, and certainly before petitioning for one, you should consult a family law attorney about your rights and obligations as a possible father.