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When genetic testing may be ordered in Massachusetts

Without a court order, a mother, child and putative father may be required to submit to paternity testing in Massachusetts. The birth mother or putative father may submit an affidavit claiming that intercourse took place during the probable period of conception. However, this may only be the case in the event that there is no other person who may be the father.

If a test is ordered, the order will be delivered to the parties in accordance with rule 4(d)(2) of the Massachusetts Rules of Domestic Relations Procedure. When test results are received, the mother and the alleged father are given an opportunity to voluntarily acknowledge parentage. If there is no voluntary acknowledgment of parentage, action may be taken pursuant to chapter 209C of the General Laws of Massachusetts. If either party disputes the authority of the IV-D organization that issues a genetic marker test or fails to show at a hearing, action may also be taken pursuant to chapter 209C.

A paternity test may establish who the legal father of a child is. For fathers, this may provide them with full or increased parental rights such as visitation or custody of their child. For mothers, it may be enough to compel the child's father to provide child support or other assistance.

Anyone who believes he or she may be the legal parent of a child may request a paternity test. When there is only one potential father or there is cause to believe intercourse took place near the time of conception, it may be possible to order the test without getting the courts involved. The help of a family law attorney may be beneficial for those who are confused about the process or do not know whether a court order is needed to compel DNA paternity testing.

Source: General Court of Massachusetts, "Establishment of paternity; genetic marker tests", September 30, 2014

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