There are several reasons an individual may want a court ordered paternity test, but probably the most common reason is to establish paternity so that an order of support can be issued. Court ordered paternity tests can also be issued to seek state and federal reimbursement of aid paid to a mother, and may be important to child custody and visitation hearings as well.
In order to have a court order a paternity test, a court must have a reason to seek that paternity is established in a case. Usually court ordered paternity tests are ordered when a man will not voluntarily agree to a legal paternity test, but the mother often must also provide reasonable evidence to justify an assertion that the man is indeed the father of the child. This is often done by having the mother provide details under oath about her relationship with the man she is alleging is the father of the child, including providing dates of contact around the time of conception, as well as any further contact during pregnancy and birth. The court will be especially interested in any evidence of financial support provided by the alleged father for the child, cohabitation of the two individuals, and any other action that the man may have taken that suggests he may be the father of the child.
In some states, if a man has assumed responsibility for parenting a child and has acted as the father of the child, he may be legally responsible even if he is not the biological father of the child. In other states, a man may not be obliged to care for any child not biologically related to him.
If a voluntary legal DNA paternity test or a court ordered paternity test determine a man is the father of a child, a order of child support will likely be issued and a visitation schedule and custody hearings will also be held to determine what arrangements are in the best interest of the child.
If you are interested in obtaining a court ordered paternity test, it is strongly suggested you consult a family lawyer prior to moving forward on any legal action. Given the highly emotionally charged nature of custody and paternity hearings, having proper legal counsel is very important before proceeding. If you are not able to afford a lawyer, you may want to check with a legal aid clinic in your area, or see if there are any family lawyers who offer their services pro bono in your area.
Court ordered paternity tests can provide valuable evidence of paternity when there is a legal dispute. However, it may also be in your best interest to try to establish paternity outside of the court system if there is no pressing legal need to do so, or if paternity is very much in question. In these cases, you may find that using a simple, at home DNA paternity test is much cheaper and easier than going through a court to get an order of paternity test. For more information about legal DNA paternity testing and at home DNA tests please return to the Legal DNA Paternity Testing website.