Many children are born out of wedlock, either by chance or by their parents’ choice. Fathers who want to have an active part in their children’s lives or mothers who want their children’s fathers to provide support legally can achieve their respective goals by establishing paternity. However, many wonder whether the process requires DNA testing, since the procedure can be expensive.
In Kentucky, there are two ways to establish paternity: by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) and by initiating a paternity action in court. With both methods, certain instances warrant genetic testing.
Genetic testing in VAPs: not required
Before signing a VAP, parents should consider genetic testing if either of them is unsure who the child’s biological father is. However, genetic testing is a right, not a requirement, when signing VAPs. If the parents agree on who the father is and understand the consequences of signing the document, they can proceed to sign it. Once the parents do this, they lose the right to ask the judge for further DNA testing.
Genetic testing in court: can be required
When it comes to paternity actions filed with the court, the judge will not order genetic testing unless the parties do not agree on the father and actively request the court to order a test. If the judge orders DNA testing, both parties must agree to get tested.
Addressing parents’ valid concerns
The cost of genetic testing is a valid concern for unmarried parents. Nevertheless, it is also a substantial issue if the parents do not know who the biological father of a child is. For this reason, it is essential to understand how the process of establishing paternity works to ensure that no parent accidentally forgoes their right to conduct DNA testing. The parties can then evaluate their case to confirm which method is suitable.