Children are generally automatically assumed to be their mother’s biological children when they’re born to them. This isn’t the case with fathers though. Unmarried dads must establish their paternity before they’re allowed to exercise their parental rights to visitation or custody with their child. One way that fathers can do this is by taking a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) paternity test. You may be surprised to find out just how accurate such tests are.
Data compiled by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) shows that DNA tests are a particularly effective tool for determining paternity. They are 100% accurate at excluding a man as the father of a child. DNA tests can be used to confirm that a male is a dad with 99.9% accuracy.
In case you’re wondering how these tests are performed, it involves a clinician taking a small sample of tissues or bodily fluids from both you and your potential child. That genetic material contains both chromosomes and genes and is unique to both of you. Half of your’s and the mother’s genetic material join and form the child. A small sample from both you and a child can show geneticists whether you two share a biological parental connection or not.
Clinicians can sample cells from around the body. The ones that they most often take and test for paternity are buccal (or cheek) cells and blood. The genetic profile of samples like these is consistent no matter what bodily source they come from.
Unmarried fathers generally don’t enjoy any parental rights to their child until they establish their paternity of them. This means that you aren’t legally entitled to visitation or custody of your child. You’re also not entitled to make any decisions about their education, religious upbringing or medical treatment unless you’ve established your paternity either.
If you aren’t listed as the father on your child’s birth certificate and their mother seems reluctant to sign any necessary paperwork to add you to it, then you should initiate the paternity process right away. An attorney here in Dallas can advise you of the steps that you must follow to move forward in establishing paternity and exercising your parental rights here in Texas.
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Author: On behalf of Katie L. Lewis of Katie L. Lewis, P.C. Family Law