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Court Ordered Paternity Test: What You Need to Know


What is a Court Ordered Paternity Test?

A court ordered paternity test is a DNA test that is administered according to the specifications of a court order.  In such tests, the possible or presumed father and child (and sometimes the mother) will undergo legal DNA paternity testing as mandated by the court order.

Why Would You Want a Court Ordered Paternity Test?

Fathers seeking visitation rights and mothers seeking child support are two frequent parties seeking a court ordered paternity test.   Government agencies may also want a court ordered paternity test administered to a presumed father in order to reimburse state or federal support and medical expenses being paid for a child.

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How Do You Get a Court Ordered Paternity Test?

If you are interested in obtaining a court ordered paternity test, it is advisable to contact a lawyer you specializes in custody matters.   If you are unable to afford such a lawyer, check your local phone directory or look online for a legal aid clinic in your area, or a lawyer who is willing to work “pro bono” on such issues.  If this fails, contact your state’s attorney general’s office.  This is the agency that is responsible for enforcing child support orders and collecting child support payments.  It is in their interest to ensure that biological fathers are paying child support (which also means they are entitled to visitation rights), and they are likely to be able to provide some assistance in this matter.

How is a Court Ordered Paternity Test Taken?

Although in some rare cases a court ordered paternity test will be ordered while the child is still in the womb (often using the somewhat risky amniocentesis procedure), in general such tests will be administered after the infant is born.

A court ordered paternity test is a painless procedure (if done after the baby is born).  Generally it involves a cotton swab being rubbed on the inside of the mouth.  This testing will need to be done at a laboratory certified for legal DNA paternity testing by your state, and the court order may have additional requirements as well that will need to be met.

A court ordered paternity test has a high level of certainty regarding results.  Most legal DNA paternity tests provide a 99.99% level of accuracy when it comes to determining that a man is the biological father of a child, and 100% level of accuracy when it comes to excluding a man as father (determining that a man is not the father of a child).

What Other Options Do I Have for DNA Paternity Testing?

If you do not wish to involve the courts in a paternity dispute, there are also at home paternity testing kits that can be purchased over the counter.  These kits have no legal enforcement, but they are as accurate as a court ordered paternity test and can help answer lingering questions and help resolved disputes regarding paternity outside a court setting.

For further information about court ordered paternity tests and legal DNA paternity testing, please return to the Legal DNA Paternity Testing homepage.