When the paternity of a child is disputed, and the alleged father has not signed the child's birth certificate or a declaration of paternity, there is really only one way that the court will make a ruling on the paternity of the child and that is through a DNA test.
Before a DNA test can be ordered, a paternity case must be filed with the court. This petition can be filed by any of the following parties, or an attorney acting on their behalf:
- mother of the child
- alleged father, or man who believes he is the father
- local agency providing support to the mother (this would occur if the mother files for any sort of financial or government assistance)
- adoption agency
Once a DNA test is ordered, the court usually has a list of approved medical facilities that the test can be performed at. The court will order the alleged father and the mother (on behalf of the child) to make appointments for the father and child to each be tested within a reasonable time frame. This is a court order and the court will not look favorably upon any party that attempts to stall the process by not making themselves available for an appointment.
The results of the DNA test are sent to both parties and are filed with the court be filed as part of the official court file. Paternity cases are not public record and this information will be kept private, however it must still be shared with the court in order for the judge to make an official ruling on the paternity of the child.
If the alleged father is in fact the biological father, the court will proceed to make subsequent rulings related to child custody, visitation and child support. Anything, facts, evidence, expert testimony, etc., that either party would like the judge to consider when making these rulings is usually submitted to the court at the time the case is filed or shortly thereafter. The parties don't have to wait for the DNA test to be complete in order to make arguments supporting their case. In fact, waiting to do so would only further delay the case. Additionally, the court has rules and deadlines determining when certain documents must be filed. It's strongly advised that a person going through a paternity action consult an experienced attorney. Contact Richard Ross Associates today for more information or call (805) 777-1011.