DNA, Birth Certificates and Paternity

Oct 23

Generally paternity is established by the names on the birth certificate. The birth certificate says who the mother is and who the legal father is and the DNA test results say who the biological father is. If the father is named on the birth certificate paternity is obvious and courts are guided by this when establishing paternity. If no father is listed on the birth certificate then the court will order a DNA test to establish who is or is not the father. So what happens when the person listed on the birth certificate and the DNA test results don’t match?

If you are the mother and want to terminate the parental rights of the “father” then the mother files a Petition to Terminate Parental Rights and show why it is in the child’s best interest to terminate the “father’s” parental rights. DNA test results are not good enough. The “father” can then either oppose the motion or not. In some cases the “father” won’t want to terminate parental rights because he has established a relationship with the child. If the “father” objects then usually negotiations begin and the parties come to an agreement. I have had several cases where I have represented the mother in this type of situation and the “father” has agreed to a termination of parental rights.

If you are the “father” you cannot voluntarily terminate your parental rights regardless of DNA test results. You must file  complaint in what we call a “D” case and ask the Court to remove your name from the birth certificate and explain to the Court why it is in the child’s best interest to do so. At the same time it is best to have a discussion with the mother and get her to agree.

This is why I always want my clients to get a DNA test before an Affidavit of Paternity is signed. In child support court I always recommend to the parties that they ask for a DNA test before paternity is established. It is easier to avoid the mess than clean it up on the back side.