DNA testing

Get the Facts About Parental Rights, Paternity Testing, and Child Support

As far as the Massachusetts courts are concerned, both mothers and fathers have legal rights and obligations when it comes to children. However, a child born to unmarried parents doesn’t automatically have a legal father. The mother is given sole legal and physical custody until paternity is established. For married couples, the husband is presumed to be the biological father and is responsible for financial obligations. As a presumed father, if you believe you are not the biological father, meeting with an attorney to rebut presumed paternity is a time-sensitive matter and needs to be addressed as soon as possible. In order for an unmarried biological father to be determined to be the father of a child, paternity must be acknowledged. This can be done in writing if both parents sign a form known as a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage.” In many cases, this form is signed at the child’s birth. If the biological father is not present at the birth or unaware of the child’s existence, paternity testing may be required to establish parental rights or enforce obligations later on. DNA Testing The legal process used by the court to determine paternity is called genetic marker tests. These are simple medical tests to show paternal biological relationships. Two types of tests can be performed, a cotton swab with DNA from the mouth or a blood test. Samples are taken from the child, the biological mother, and the father in question. The tests are considered very accurate when it comes to

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Establishing paternity for unmarried parents

A parent in Massachusetts might want to establish paternity for several reasons. It is important to note that parents have the same legal obligations and rights whether or not they are married. For example, both parents have the right to shared custody or visitation with their children. The parent that has primary physical custody of a child also has the right to receive financial support for the child. Likewise, the parent who does not have primary physical custody has the legal obligation to provide financial and medical support for his or her child. A blood test, known as genetic marker testing, can establish paternity. A father can challenge a paternity claim by submitting to a DNA test. Similarly, a mother can petition the court to compel a father to submit to a paternity test. The mother may use the results of the paternity test as evidence in court in order to obtain an order for her to receive financial provisions for the child including day care, medical insurance and child support. A father can also set up a test to establish paternity and then assert his right to visitation or shared custody. Once it has been established through DNA testing that an individual is a child’s father, the father can then file a petition in court seeking either shared custody or visitation. A married father who does not believe that the child he is raising is his may have limited legal options. In a case such as this, it may

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Fathers may object to adoption of their child

Massachusetts residents may know that parents may object to their child’s adoption. This fundamental right might be complex when the father is not married to the mother. In such cases, the biological father may need to take steps to assure that his rights are protected. One hurdle in establishing a father’s rights is paternity. This is done using DNA testing where genetic material is compared between the father and the child. There are times when the father is unaware that a pregnancy exists. In such cases, it may be difficult to have testing done before an adoption is completed. When this happens, it is problematic for a father to have any say on the adoption of his child. Fathers who are aware of the pregnancy may wish to have testing done quickly. The court may view prolonging this as a sign the father is not committed to caring for the child. To eliminate such an impression, the father may wish to have genetic testing done as soon as the child is born or while the mother is still pregnant if he believes she would want to give the child up for adoption as soon as the baby is born. Other things that might be done to illustrate the father’s parenting commitment include helping to pay for expenses related to the pregnancy and to begin paying voluntary child support once the birth occurs. In addition, establishing a parent-child relationship is essential. In spite of showing paternity and an effort at committed

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How does a DNA test work?

Massachusetts residents may know that paternity testing is able to establish the father’s identity with a substantial degree of reliability. By matching the child’s DNA to that of the father, it allows parents and children to have resolution on this issue. Understanding paternity testing is based on one’s knowledge of genetics. The DNA code for each individual is specific except in identical twins. However, paternity testing, except in rare instances, is rated at an inclusion rate of 99.9 percent. This means that there is a .01 percent chance that the individual is not the father. Conversely, if the individual is not the father, the test will provide a 100 percent exclusion rate. A child receives 50 percent of his or her DNA from each parent. Since that is true for the parents as well, the child will have DNA that matches that of the grandparents more closely than the DNA of non-related, randomly chosen individuals. DNA fingerprints are done by using restriction enzymes to cut the DNA at certain intervals. Since all DNA is made of combinations of the same four units, A, G, T and C, this technique looks for specific sequences to make the cut. The parents’ DNA and the child’s is cut using this method, and the resultant fragments are matched. If the fragment pattern matches that of the proposed parents, parentage is established by a factor of 99.9 percent. Paternity is used to establish both the obligations of the father and his rights. Using DNA testing,

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How paternity is established in Massachusetts

Residents of Massachusetts may establish paternity with the court by filing with the court, the city clerk or the registrar of vital records. If the documentation is passed through a clerk or registrar, these entities are responsible for sending it to the state juvenile court. The court may also collect personal information about the parents and child. The information that the court or registrar may request include the names, Social Security numbers, ages, dates of birth and addresses of the mother, father and child. If paternity is not voluntarily established with the court, any party may seek to make such a registration. Establishment of paternity with the court is necessary in order to maintain fathers’ rights. The court must have proof of paternity in order to assign visitation rights and shared custody of a child. In order to enforce the obligations and rights related to paternity, the court may order proof of paternity. Such proof may be requested in order to confer custody rights as well as shared custody and visitation rights for the father and paternal grandparents. Paternity claims may be proven or disproved by way of paternity tests such as DNA testing. Once paternity is established by the court, additional actions such as orders for child support may commence in family court. Establishment of paternity provides a father with rights to access with a child. If either parent desires to establish or challenge paternity claims, this must be done through juvenile court. An attorney may be able to

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