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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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Case brings attention to embryo rights

An ongoing case regarding rights over pre-frozen embryos may be of interest to couples in Massachusetts. The Illinois case concerns a former couple who were fighting over ownership of the frozen pre-embryos. There is no federal law governing embryo rights, and state laws vary. Under Tennessee law, former partners can stop an embryo from being implanted if their former partners have other options for having children. Under Iowa law, both the man and the woman involved have to sign consent forms for embryos to be planted or discarded. In New York, the courts used a contract signed at a fertility clinic as the basis for its decision. Before the Illinois case began, the former couple had been emailing back and forth about the fate of the embryos for a year. The man later filed a complaint in court asking for the embryos not to be used in August 2011. The man had donated sperm to his former girlfriend after they had been dating for five months. She had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and treatment might leave her sterile. In the emails, the man at first told his former partner that he was glad to be able to help her. He later expressed reservations when he began to question how others would view his absence from his children’s lives. One of the central issues within the case has been the embryos being the woman’s chance for her own biological child. Custody rights usually involve children who have already been conceived,

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Reasons to challenge paternity in Massachusetts

Families may benefit greatly by knowing the identity of a child’s father. Determining paternity grants them access to the medical and genetic history of the father, allowing them to learn about any medical conditions or diseases that the child could inherit. It may also mean that the father has the right to be involved in raising the child, helping to provide for the child’s needs. However, sometimes a man is wrongfully labeled the biological father, and he could file a suit to challenge paternity. Medical evidence is heavily relied on to establish paternity, but while these tests are largely accurate, they sometimes provide incorrect results. A man could challenge paternity results if the lab test was tainted or fraudulent. A tainted test is grounds for a suit if the lab has made errors before and produces substandard work on a regular basis. Fraudulence may exist if there is evidence that someone else was sent to take the DNA test on behalf of the alleged father. Men could also challenge paternity results if there is proof of someone tampering with the results or proof that they cannot have children because they are infertile. A man who believes that his wife was unfaithful in their marriage and that a child born to her was a result of that infidelity has legitimate grounds to challenge paternity, as husbands are presumed to be the fathers of children born to their wives during their marriages. While there are many reasons for fathers to challenge paternity,

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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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