A DNA paternity test is used to establish the percentage likelihood that a particular man is the legal father of a child. This test is done whenever a man believes that he is the father of a child, or when a man is accused of being the father of a child. It is usually ordered by the court in a paternity action, which may be brought by the man, the woman who gave birth, or by the State of Wisconsin.
The divorce and paternity lawyers at Bandle & Zaeske understand that establishing paternity can be a very sensitive and challenging endeavor for both parents. We work collectively with mothers and/or potential fathers that ask for a paternity test, and treat every client’s case with the care and sensitivity you would expect from a caring family law firm. We also understand when a DNA test is not needed or should be avoided, saving you time, money, and emotional stress.
“Paternity establishment” is the process required to officially rule a man the legal father of a child. When a paternity test is verified, the legal father immediately obtains rights unique to him and his child, including:
- Child support
- Health insurance and health history access by the family/child’s doctor
- Social Security benefits
- A right to inheritance
- Custodial decision making
Paternity in Wisconsin can be determined through three possible avenues: voluntary acknowledgement, a court ruling, or legitimation (recognizing a child’s legal father after he weds the mother). Understanding how each option applies to an individual’s situation is crucial when deciding whether to pursue a paternity test.
Voluntary Paternity Recognition
As long as both parties are at or above 18 years of age, and are 100% positive in the father’s paternity without a test, this option is the quickest and easiest resolution. A Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement form can then be signed after the child is born, and validated by the hospital where the birth took place. However, if a DNA test is desired by one or both parties, the test should be completed before the paternity form is signed or made official. This form cannot be used if the child was born or conceived while the mother is married to someone other than the child’s father.
A court hearing may become inevitable if either the potential father or the mother denies the claim. Both the mother and possible father should attend the hearing, during which the man will be read his rights and duties. At this time, a genetic sample or DNA test may be requested for lab analysis by the man. If the potential father does not show at the hearing, the court will probably name him the legal father in a “default judgment.” The paternity judgment is an official ruling once it is entered, and the court then will decide the amount and length of child support payments.
Legitimation (Recognizing A Marital Child)
If a child is born to a couple that later decides to marry, an Acknowledgment of Marital Child form can be signed that establishes paternity after the marriage is official. This also ensures that both spouses are presumed to have uncontested legal custody of the children on their own terms.
If you have any questions about which path to take in order to determine whether a paternity test is necessary, Bandle & Zaeske has dealt with numerous paternity cases and can provide guidance through the testing process that best fits your situation and review all possible options with you.
Give us a call at (414)359-1424 to make a case review appointment or submit a consultation form to learn how to resolve any paternity situation in the most effective and private way possible.