Child Support Division
Services: Paternity Establishment
A support order cannot be established for a child who is born to unmarried parents until the alleged father is determined to be the father. This determination may be made through an acknowledgment of paternity or by involvement of a court.
If the alleged father denies he is the father, or is not sure he is the father, genetic testing of the mother, child, and alleged father may be conducted. Genetic tests are highly accurate; their results indicate a probability of paternity and can establish a legal presumption of paternity. These tests can exclude a man who is not the father and can also indicate the likelihood of paternity if he is not excluded. The Child Support Division has a contract with LabCorp, a genetic testing laboratory, to conduct genetic tests.
There are many benefits to establishing paternity besides those involving establishing a support order. These include providing basic emotional, social and economic ties between a father and his child. Once paternity is established legally, a child gains legal rights and privileges. Among these may be rights to inheritance, the father's medical and life insurance benefits, and social security and possibly veterans' benefits. The child also has a chance to develop a relationship with the father, and to develop a sense of identity and connection to the "other half" of his or her family.