Husbands are generally presumed to be the biological father of any children born during the marriage. Boyfriends are not, regardless of how long you and she have been involved with each other.

Whether you are her husband or her boyfriend, you may presume you are the father of her child or children. You may be absolutely confident. But every now and then, you may want to confirm that you are the father.

Maybe she cheated on you. Maybe she denied she was cheating, but you have your suspicions. Maybe someone told you she was cheating. Maybe the child looks sort of like you, but not exactly.

She knows she’s the mother. But you might have a slight doubt that you are the father. What do you do?

In the old days, your only option was a court-ordered DNA test. This is because the older genetic testing required samples from both parents and the child.

If the mother was uncooperative, a court order was required to draw her blood to get the sample.

Today, genetic testing can be done with only the child and the father.

A court order for DNA testing has several disadvantages. One is that some mothers will deny parenting time until the results come back. This is usually done on the grounds that the child should not bond with a man who the testing may show is not the father.

If this happens, courts rarely order this missed time to be made up. However, you are generally responsible for child support during this time.

Another disadvantage is that, no matter how sure you are the father, she can say to the child in the future that you demanded a DNA test to prove you were his or her father, which could erode the relationship between you and the child.

Courts could lessen the need for this if they required the mother to swear under oath that you are the only possible candidate for paternity. This is because you know that you had relations with her during the period when conception was possible. But only she knows if you were the only one who had relations with her during the period when conception was possible.

Unfortunately, most courts are reluctant to order the mother to so swear. Instead, many judges will side step this by saying that if the father has doubts, he should ask for a DNA test.

One alternative if you are simply confirming your paternity in your mind is to use an off-the-shelf home DNA test from your local drug store.

The results from these are generally not admissible in court, due to chain of evidence concerns. But most of these tests are now likely reliable enough for you to either confirm – in your mind – your paternity or make a decision as to whether to challenge or assert your paternity through the court.

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