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Paternity tests on the rise

Since teen pop star Justin Bieber was alleged to be the father of a young woman's baby, paternity has been a hot topic. However, paternity disputes are not just for celebrities. There were approximately 500,000 paternity tests performed in the U.S. last year. This week, the largest DNA testing company in the U.S. reported that they have experienced an increase in paternity inquiries recently.

There are a number of situations in which someone would need to confirm paternity. Whether a mother is attempting to secure child support or an alleged father is disputing any biological relation to a child, the increase in testing is not just happening in Hollywood.

Whether someone requests a test to confirm or challenge paternity, establishing paternity can be vital in order to confirm chain of custody, obtain accurate medical histories and access a range of benefits allowed only to family members. Additionally, defining parentage can be highly beneficial in developing family bonds.

Among married couples, paternity is rarely challenged. When a couple is not married or there are disputes from either party, answers are needed to determine a wide range of issues involving fathers' rights. In some states, even if there is no dispute, unmarried couples must legally establish parental rights by signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity form.  Further, if an unmarried father wants legal and physical custody rights to their child, a paternity case needs to be filed in court. 

Included in this recent report on paternal testing were some surprising results. According to a chief science officer at the paternity testing lab, it is estimated that only about two-thirds of men they test are proven to be the biological father of a child.

If either the mother or father has any doubts regarding a child's paternity, it is strongly suggested that a DNA test take place. Lawyers who specialize in paternity cases can assist in securing a valid testing facility, establishing child custody schedules and determining what, if any, financial adjustments may be needed.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "Fathers Seeking to Confirm Paternity Through DNA Testing on the Rise," Nov. 22, 2011

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