• An Overview of Paternity Testing and Child Support in the United States

    Posted on March 28, 2013 by in Uncategorized
    Paternity Testing may Protect a Child

    Paternity Testing may Protect a Child

    Paternity testing is the use of genetic fingerprinting to in order to ascertain whether a person is the biological father of a child or not. This genetic test is also known as a DNA test and is the most reliable parental testing method currently available.

    A paternity test is important as it helps to fully protect a child’s paternal rights and ensures the child’s well-being  It does this by allowing the child access to social security, inheritance as well as veteran’s benefits, in case the father is an army veteran. Paternity testing can be administered before or after the child is born. The postnatal test is cheaper than the prenatal one.

    Prenatal Testing

    Prenatal testing to determine paternity is usually done using other types of samples than those used for post natal tests. In prenatal tests, the samples are taken directly from inside the womb. Types of prenatal sampling methods include chorionic villus sampling, amniocentesis, samples of the umbilical cord or blood samples.

    SNP Microarray, which involves collecting and analyzing the DNA of the baby found in the mother’s bloodstream, is a very recent type of test, still not available everywhere in the world. Amniocentesis which involves the extraction and withdrawal of amniotic fluid from the mother’s uterus could have some side effects including a miscarriage. Chorionic Villus Sampling which involves collecting and analysing samples of chorionic villi on the uterine wall, (these have the same genetic makeup as the fetus since they both came from the same embryo), also has a risk of miscarriage. Prenatal paternity testing is not accepted in courts; it is not court admissible.

    Using the paternity test results

    Armed with the results of the paternity test, a mother can make a request for child support if the results are positive. A man may contest any child support request if the results come up as negative.

    In the United States child support laws vary from state to state. However, in general, child support it is taken to be the obligation by an obligor to make periodic payments to the obligee for the financial support of a child born in the course of a marriage or even out of wedlock, whether the relationship between the parents is still ongoing or has broken down.

    For a parent to seek child support from the noncustodial parent they must bring about a legal suit in a trial court. Since the law only requires an individual to pay child support for their biological children, proof of a biological relationship is required and this is where the results of the paternity test come in.

    Once it has been proven that the child is indeed the biological child of the other party enjoined in the suit, the trial court decides on the size of the periodic payments to be made by the noncustodial parent.  This decision is made based on various factors such as the child’s age, their educational needs, their health as well as the living standard that the child would have enjoyed if the parents had continued to live together.

    The court may also rule that the noncustodial parent contribute to medical, holiday and private school costs. However, the payments usually stop when the child attains 18 years of age meaning that in most states, college education is not included as part of child support payments.