DNA testing has become more common in California. While it's often the linchpin in criminal cases, DNA testing can also help people learn more about their families and ancestry. One of the most important uses of DNA testing in public life is to obtain clear answers about paternity in child custody and child support cases.
While a married man is generally presumed to be the dad of his wife's child, no such presumption exists for unmarried fathers. Unless the father is listed on a child's birth certificate, he is not considered the legal father and does not have legal rights or obligations.
There are several reasons why people may turn to DNA paternity tests in these circumstances. A mother seeking child support from a father could go to family court to seek an order for a paternity test. If the DNA test shows that the alleged father is actually the child's parent, he can be held responsible for child support. He would also have the right to be involved in the child's life and seek child custody and visitation time. In other circumstances, the state may seek a paternity test if the mother of a child needs to rely on public assistance and is not receiving child support.
In some cases, a father wants to get involved in his child's life. Without legal paternity, however, he has no rights to enforce that involvement. A DNA paternity test can support his filing for child custody and parenting time in family court.
DNA testing may have an important role to play in child support and custody cases. A family law attorney can help a parent to pursue their rights in court. This may include seeking child support payments or time with the child.