Divorce is often difficult, especially when it comes to children and its effects on them. One of the factors that may affect how a divorce decree is drawn up when children are involved is establishing paternity, which can be requested as a motion in court.

The presumption is that children born in a marriage are the biological children of the mother’s husband, but that does not always turn out to be true. There are consequences to establishing paternity (or biological fatherhood) in a divorce. The results of a paternity test can alter the course of a custody preceding to a huge extent.

According to the website of the Beauchamp Law Office, P.C., one consequence is financial. In a divorce, the father may be compelled to provide financial support to the children of the marriage, usually in the form of child support payments. However, if paternity tests show that the child or children are not the biological children of a woman’s husband, then financial support for that child or those children may not be the responsibility of the husband unless the court otherwise decrees it to be so. Of course, if the wife provides the main source of family income or does not get primary custody, she may be required to pay child support, which can negate some of the value that a paternity test may hold.

Another consequence of paternity testing is legal. The wife may deny visitation rights or child custody to the husband on the basis of paternity. If she alleges that the child or children are not biologically his, then legally, he has no rights to them. A paternity test that proves the child or children are biologically his and can establish a basis for the granting of visitation rights or custody.

A paternity test can be established in one of two ways: DNA or HLA (human leukocyte antigen) testing. DNA is by far the more popular and reliable type of paternity testing, with 99% accuracy. If paternity is an issue in a divorce, an attorney will most probably request it early in the process so that the paperwork for the main issue of the motion (custody, child support, etc.) can be submitted on time for the court’s consideration.

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