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Sometimes a male client will come to a family law attorney and ask about a paternity test for a child that the mother alleges they have fathered with them. If the parties were married or have been monogamous for a significant period, paternity may not be an issue. If this is not the case, it can raise doubts for an alleged father who is now being asked to support the child financially through the payment of child support.

When a male doubts the paternity of the child, they can usually request a paternity test from the court. A simple motion for paternity testing will be filed and the court can sign an order for testing of the father and the child. The test will usually take a few weeks to be completed and will let the parties know whether the male party is the father of the child to a 99.999% certainty.

There are possible limitations on when a paternity test can be obtained. When the children reach a certain age, or the alleged father has held himself out as the children’s father and it would be inequitable to break the father-child relationship. However, the alleged father can obtain a paternity test if he can show that he is being misled to think he is the father by the mother’s misrepresentations to him.

Once a paternity test is done and shows that a person is not the father of the child, it essentially terminates any parent-child relationship between the party and the child. However, if the test comes back positive, then issues such as custody, visitation, child support, and health care costs must be determined.

An attorney can help you properly request genetic testing from the court if you doubt you are the father of the child subject of the lawsuit. If the child is older than four and has known you as their father, this can create a barrier to obtaining testing but is not completely prohibitive in having a paternity test ordered. You will want to give your attorney the complete history of the case, including that with the mother and child, so they can determine if a paternity test is a proper request in your case.