Historically, a court-ordered paternity test was undertaken following the birth of a child. The primary reason for this procedure was that technology did not readily permit prenatal paternity testing. Medical technology has advanced significantly in recent years, making prenatal paternity testing both more available and safer. There are now procedures in place through which you can get a court-ordered paternity test for an unborn child.
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Things you need
- Petition for paternity
- Motion for paternity test
Get a standard form petition for paternity from the court clerk. The court must have jurisdiction over the mother in order to be able to proceed with an order for a paternity test. Either the mother or the putative father has standing to file a paternity case. ("Putative" is the legal term for presumed father of the unborn child.)
Complete the petition for paternity, identifying both the pregnant woman and the putative father.
File the petition with the clerk of the court.
Request that the clerk of the court arrange for service of the petition for paternity together with a summons on the opposing party. Or, if the opposing party desires, he can enter a voluntary appearance in the case. In other words, he can complete a form submitting to the jurisdiction of the court without being served court papers by the sheriff.
Obtain a form motion from the court clerk. Specifically, you need a form motion for a paternity test on the unborn child.
Complete the paternity test form and file it with the clerk of the court. At the time of filing you are provided a hearing date and time for the motion for paternity test.
Deliver a copy of the motion for paternity test as well as notice of the date and time of the hearing to the opposing party.
Appear at the scheduled hearing and present your evidence and argument in support of the motion for a paternity test. The opposing party has an opportunity to object to the testing if he so desires. However, absent a medical reason to delay testing until after the child is born, the court is likely to approve the request for a prenatal paternity test.
Tips and warnings
- Paternity case are complex and contentious. Therefore, your interests and rights are best served if you retain the services of an experienced family-law attorney. You can access a directory of family-law lawyers from both the local and state bar associations.
- There are some limited instances in which a pregnant woman's doctor may recommend delaying paternity testing until after the child is born. The court actually cannot make any final orders pertaining to paternity, custody or support for the child until the baby is born. Therefore, delaying a paternity test on the child is not likely to cause major problems. If there is concern the father may leave the jurisdiction of the court, his DNA can be tested before the birth of the child.
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