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Challenging paternity in Massachusetts

Many Massachusetts parents are ecstatic when the time comes to welcome a child into the world. However, there are cases where it may not be known who the father of the child is. If a man was assumed to be the father but evidence suggests that this is not the case, either party can challenge paternity.

When a child is born, the mother's husband is usually assumed to be the father. If the mother is not married, the man she believed fathered the child may be assumed to be the child's parent. However, even after paternity has been established, there are many reasons that a man or the child's mother may wish to challenge paternity. For example, the person assumed to be the father may be found to be sterile or infertile, or the lab results establishing paternity may have been tainted or tampered with. Furthermore, either party may have reason to believe the child was fathered by someone else.

The process for challenging paternity is similar to establishing paternity in that the challenging party must file a complaint. The court will then order the child and the assumed father or man claiming to be the father to take a DNA test. The court may also take into account any evidence that may or may not discredit paternity, such as medical documents. Once the tests have been run, the court will issue the order that determines paternity.

Unless there are extenuating circumstances, Massachusetts courts believe it is important for children to get to know both of their parents. If someone believes they may be the biological father of a child, they may file a paternity claim. By filing this claim with the help of a family law attorney, they may prove that they have the right to visit and have parenting time with their child.

Source: Findlaw, "Challenging Paternity", December 03, 2014

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