When You Should Request a Paternity Test During a Divorce

Posted in Divorce on August 3, 2022

A divorce case can involve many complicated legal issues outside of the dissolution of marriage itself. One example is paternity, or the legal establishment of the child’s father. If paternity is uncertain during a divorce case in Solana Beach, one or both parties may wish to request a paternity test to establish parentage. This can be important for child custody, visitation and child support determinations.

If Parentage Has Not Yet Been Established

If your marriage is headed for divorce but the paternity of your child has never been established, you may need to request a paternity test as the mother. Establishing paternity can benefit your child by giving him or her a clear link to his or her father. This can help your child by providing things such as a genetic history, medical and family history, insurance benefits from the father, and financial assistance through a child support order.

If You Wish to Establish Yourself as the Child’s Father

If you believe you are the biological father of a child but are not currently the legal parent or guardian, you may wish to request a paternity test during a divorce case so that you can have parental rights. If you would like to be considered for child custody and visitation, for example, you will need to establish parentage.

If genetic testing proves that you are the child’s biological father, this will give you legal rights as the child’s established parent in a divorce case. Note that if you were married during the conception or birth of the child, you are already the presumed father – meaning you won’t have to establish paternity.

If Paternity Is Being Disputed by the Father

If you plan on requesting child support from the father of your child after your divorce, you may need to establish paternity if your ex-spouse is denying parentage. Genetic testing using DNA can confirm that your ex-spouse is the biological father of your child – giving him the responsibility of paying child support after your divorce. This can save you from taking on 100 percent of the financial burden of childcare after your divorce if you have primary custody.

If You Wish to Dispute Paternity

Conversely, if your wife told you that you are the father of her child, but you have doubts (such as after learning that she committed adultery during your marriage), you may wish to request a paternity test to confirm your biological connection to the child. If genetic testing proves that you are not the biological father of the child, you can decide to give up your parental rights to avoid paying child support. This will also take away your right to child custody and visitation.

How Is Paternity Established in California?

A paternity test specifically refers to genetic testing that compares the child’s DNA to the alleged father’s DNA to see if they are a biological match. A legal paternity test typically costs between $300 to $500, and the costs may be split between both parties involved in the divorce case. Genetic testing may be done as part of a court order to establish paternity in California. This is not the only way parentage can be established during a divorce, however.

California uses what is known as presumed parentage. This is the presumption that a man is the father of a child that is born to his wife if the couple was married at the time of the child’s conception or birth. This rule also applies to same-sex couples that are in registered domestic partnerships in California as of January 1, 2005. A father may also be a child’s presumed parent if he agreed to put his name on the birth certificate or welcomed the child as his own.

Without presumed parentage or a court order, the third and final way to establish paternity is through voluntary declaration. This is when a man voluntarily signs a document stating that he is a child’s legal parent. This can happen at the hospital when the child is born or afterward. Once the declaration is voluntarily signed, it must be filed with California’s Parentage Opportunity Program (POP) in order to be effective.