Law Offices of Matthew S. Schultz, P.C.

Settling child custody disputes with DNA testing

Paternity and maternity testing has become a fairly standard process with child custody matters in Arizona when parentage comes into question. In some family law situations, it's required to settle disputes or determine who is responsible for making child support payments. Also, when parents are unmarried when a child is conceived, the father isn't automatically considered the father legally. He is usually referred to as the "alleged father" unless both parents sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity form.

When a father either admits that he is the father or it's determined that this is the case with a DNA test, he may be required to pay child support if he is the non-custodial parent. DNA test results may also be used as a reason to establish a visitation schedule or make a case for custody in certain situations. Typically done with a collected blood sample or cheek swab, maternal and paternal DNA testing has an accuracy rate that's almost at 100 percent.

Paternity can be established in several ways. Individuals may voluntarily initiate a DNA test at a lab that's equipped to perform such tests. In other instances, a state child and family services agency may issue an order for testing. A judge can also issue a paternity order to conclusively prove or disprove parentage. Some government programs use testing of this nature to make sure non-custodial parents are correctly identified and meeting their financial obligations. Test results could relieve a man of the burden of child support if DNA shows that he is not the biological father.

The obligation to pay child support is separate from any other non-custodial parent responsibilities. While a family law attorney is often able to initiate steps to collect back payments, a lawyer may also offer assistance if a case becomes complicated or involves unexpected circumstances. If a non-custodial parent has sudden financial difficulties, for instance, an effort may be made to modify a child support agreement. Legal input from an attorney might also be helpful if a one parent is preventing court-approved visitations or if a support-paying ex remarries or moves to a different state.

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Law Offices of Matthew S. Schultz

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