What is paternity?
Paternity is the word used to define the state of being someone's father. Some states require that the paternity of the child be established prior to or in the course of custody proceedings.
What is a paternity test and how does it work?
A paternity test is the method used to determine whether or not a man is the father of a child.
DNA is taken from the father and the child and analyzed to determine if the man is the child's biological father.
The DNA can be collected by swabbing the inside of the cheek to collect loose cells or may be taken from a blood sample.
Paternity tests are extremely accurate. The human body contains 46 chromosomes and child receives 23 chromosomes from each parent, so a father and a child will share 23 of the same chromosomes. When testing DNA, the DNA is spliced and analyzed to see if any chromosomes are shared.
If the compared DNA matches, it means that there is a 99.9% possibility that the man is the child's father.
If the DNA does not match, it means the man tested is not the child's father.
Why would I need to take a paternity test?
The main reason for taking a paternity test is to establish the child's paternity.
With married couples, the wife's husband is considered to be the father of the child. If either parent is concerned that the child has a different father, they may want to do a paternity test to be sure. However, a married man does not have to take a paternity test in custody proceedings since the assumption of paternity exists.
If a mother has been in an exclusive relationship with one man and his is still involved in her life, he can establish paternity by signing papers at the child's birth stating that he is the father. However, that man can still take a paternity test to confirm he is the child's father if he wants to.
If the mother isn't sure who the father is, or the man she names as the father wants proof, a paternity test can be given to determine whether or not the man is the child's father. In situations like this, the court often requires that paternity is established prior to ruling on child custody.
Establishing paternity is important because it allows the court to accurately assign child support and other obligations to the correct person.
Once paternity has been established, whether the father agrees that the child is his or by DNA testing, the father has all of the rights and responsibilities of fatherhood.
Can paternity be established before the baby is born?
It is possible to test the DNA of a fetus but different methods of testing may have risks involved.
A doctor can extract amniotic fluid or other tissue from inside the mother with a long needle. The fluid may then be tested and the DNA can then be compared with the father's to establish paternity.
While this manner of prenatal DNA testing is just as accurate as the other methods, there are some risks involved, including an increased chance of miscarriage. This type of testing should be avoided if at all possible to avoid harming the baby.
A paternity test may also be conducted by taking the mother's blood and if there is free floating fetal DNA present, that DNA can be tested accurately. The chance of finding free floating fetal DNA in the mother's blood increases with gestational age.
Sometimes parents feel it is important to establish paternity prior to the child being born.
They may want to be sure who the father is so that the father is able to immediately begin bonding with the baby. A father may be hesitant to bond with the baby if he is unsure he is the baby's father.
Establishing paternity is also important so that the child's paternal medical history is accurate and it allows the child access to social benefits such as social security and veteran's benefits as well as child support.
What happens once paternity is established?
If it is determined that you are the father of a child, you are obligated and entitled to certain parental and custodial rights.
You will have the right to have visitation with your child and to be involved in raising the child.
You will also have many responsibilities as a parent. You will be obligated to provide for your child financial, emotionally, physically, etc.
Once paternity has been established, you will need to protect your custodial and parental rights.
What rights do fathers have?
Most states do not discriminate against parents based on gender, so in theory, fathers are entitled to as many parental rights as the mothers are.
However, many fathers find that their parental rights become diminished after a court battle.
This does not have to happen to you. If you want to maintain your parental rights, you may have to fight for them.
How can I ensure my parental rights are protected?
If you want to maintain your parental rights and be actively involved in your child's life, it is crucial that you develop a parenting plan or custody agreement with the mother.
A parenting plan (or custody agreement) contains all of the rules pertaining to the care and parenting of the child.
Custody X Change is software designed to help you make the best parenting plan possible for your child.
What should I include in my custody agreement / parenting plan?
A comprehensive parenting plan should contain:
If you want your parenting plan to be accepted by the court, it is important that the plan be created in the best interest of your child.
The court typically approves parenting plans when both parents agree to the terms of the plan.
How can Custody X Change help me reach an agreement with my ex?
The child's mother may have her own idea as to what she wants for custody. This is where Custody X Change can help.
Custody X Change is custody software that you can use to create a detailed and organized parenting plan.
The software is easy to use. You simply navigate through each section and enter the information requested. The result is a complete parenting plan and child custody calendar that is professional and ready to use.
If you want to use Custody X Change to help you reach an agreement with your ex:
When you use the documents created with Custody X Change as a negotiating tool, you remove yourself from the equation as she will be dealing with papers instead of you personally.
This alleviates some of the hostility that may be present and allows both of you to focus on the plan.
Once you have reached an agreement, your documents will be ready for the court or a mediator to review. You can highlight the portions you are unable to agree on and offer your proposed plan for the court or mediator to consider.
Create a custody agreement that will give you the time you want with your child. Download the free edition of Custody X Change and find out how it can help you.