Many family courts in Virginia use DNA testing to establish paternity in child custody dispute cases or if a mother requests child support. DNA tests are easy, noninvasive and have accuracy rates close to 100 percent.
When a child is born to an unwed mother, a paternity test may be conducted to determine who the biological father is. The father can always voluntarily acknowledge paternity, of course, but until he does or if the test indicates that he is, he will not be listed as the father on the child’s birth certificate.
There are many reasons why an alleged father would want to establish paternity. While it could result in the father being ordered to pay a certain amount in child support every year, it also provides him with rights he would not have otherwise. For example, establishing paternity will in most cases allow him to have physical custody and visitation rights, essentially giving him the opportunity to establish and maintain a relationship with the child. He may also be able to be involved in making decisions regarding the child, including where the child will go to school and what type of medical care the child may receive.
A DNA test may be required even in some divorce cases, especially if there were accusations of infidelity. Because Virginia allows “fault” divorces, a paternity test could have a major impact on how the divorce will play out and on the terms of the ultimate decree. A family law attorney may assist with gathering and submitting evidence that proves that the former spouse’s bad conduct caused the end of the marriage.