Life can be complicated. And that is why it's not always easy to determine the paternity of a child. So what should you do if the man you thought was the father of your child and who has been paying your child support has taken a DNA test that has proven he is not the father? Are you stuck with raising your child on your own income? Or is it possible to have the person you believe to be the real father help you with your child's expenses? And how should you go about proving that this man is actually the biological father?
Determining the Paternity of Your Child
If you have an idea who the biological father of your child may be, you -- or even your child -- could file a paternity suit. Additionally, a man who believes that he is the father of your child can also file a paternity suit. If a judge believes that your case has merit, he will order that blood tests be done. A DNA test will then be performed to determine if the man you believe to be the actual biological father is a match to your child. These types of tests are becoming more common today. In fact, according to the New York Times, the number of paternity tests taken for court purposes jumped 64 percent in a recent ten-year period.
But Should You Do It?
There are some cases where you might want to think carefully about filing a paternity suit. For example, you may not want to file a paternity suit if:
- You don't want the man in question involved in the raising of your child. If the man is determined to be the biological father, he could file for visitation or custody of your child. And if things take a nasty turn down the road, he could even file and win sole custody of your child by proving that you are an unfit mother.
- The man is somebody who could endanger you or your child. If the man has a history of violence or a criminal past, it may be dangerous to invite this person into your child's life.
The Results Are In
If you do decide to have a DNA test taken, hopefully, the tests will prove your suspicions are correct and that the man is the biological father of your child. And you may even be lucky enough to have the man step up to the situation and want to take part in your child's life and even help you with the cost of raising your child. But there is always a chance that the man may not want anything to do with your child. Perhaps, for example, he is married and already has a family. What should you do next?
Hire a Lawyer
Unfortunately, there are times when the man in a paternity suit won't rise to the occasion. If so, it would be in your best interest to hire a lawyer who is experienced in complicated child support cases, as the biological father could fight you for custody or about the amount of money he should pay in child support. For example, if your case gets very complicated, your lawyer may have to:
- Take depositions of witnesses. If, for example, the father fights for sole custody of your child, alleging that you may be an unfit parent, your lawyer may have to find witnesses who can prove otherwise.
- Prove the income of the father. This can be difficult if the father is self-employed or has a sketchy work history.
- Establish a visitation schedule. In the event the biological father does win shared child custody, you and he will need to work out a visitation schedule that will include holidays and vacations.
Once all the dust is settled and you've established paternity and possibly even a visitation schedule for your child and the alleged father, hopefully, they will be able to move on to establish a loving and meaningful relationship.