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Can a Man Force a Woman to Take a Paternity Test?

— April 14, 2021

Paternity fraud happens when a man is incorrectly identified — or accused — as the biological father of a child.

In a perfect world, when a woman gives birth to a child, it is nearly always automatically assumed that the biological father is known and generally the woman’s husband or partner is the father. But life sometimes works out differently and a man can be put in a situation where he needs to confirm his biological relationship with his offspring, for example, due to a possible situation of infidelity.

Fortunately, in today’s world it is easy to confirm biological relationships through a DNA paternity test. This DNA test uses very highly advanced science to verify a biological relationship and has now become commonplace and widely accepted worldwide. In fact, in countries like the US and the UK, this test is readily available at the click of a button or else found on the shelves of popular stores or pharmacies.

But despite being so readily available can a man actually force a woman to take a paternity test to confirm or refute he is the biological father if she is not willing to participate? Conversely, if the mother is not sure about the identity of her child’s father, can she force a man to take the test if he does not want to find out? The simple answer is ‘No’ – no one can force another party directly to undertake a test. The only way to do so to get the test mandated by a court of law. And even then refusal is possible.

The Issue of Paternity Fraud

Paternity fraud happens when a man is incorrectly identified — or accused — as the biological father of a child. Because of the prevalence of paternity fraud, many fathers either are forced to pay child support for a child that is not theirs or go on living never knowing they have a child somewhere out there. In cases where the paternity is challenged then a DNA paternity test is the only scientific solution available to determine the biological relationship. However, even a paternity test can be manipulated unless performed as a legal paternity test.

For example, in Michigan, in 2019, a 36-year-old man intentionally avoided taking responsibility for a child by hiring another man to take a DNA test for him. Both the man and the man he hired faced felony criminal charges which included falsifying documents and tampering with evidence. There is, unfortunately, no shortage of paternity fraud cases, but while laws regarding this crime vary from state to state, it is safe to say that the legal consequences should not be taken lightly. 

So if one cannot force another person to undertake a paternity test, and there is also the possibility of fraud using a home paternity test, the only option to actually make another party participate and ensure an accurate result is to do this via legal channels. One will need to file a civil lawsuit following which the court will review the case to determine if there are grounds for the test to be ordered. If the test is ordered, then the mother, alleged father, and child in question will need to submit themselves to the legal paternity test and provide the necessary samples through an approved and accredited DNA testing facility.

What if the father still refuses to adhere to the court request? In such cases, he may be found to be in contempt of court and fined or even worse, criminal charges filed against him. The court may use the refusal against the man and enter a judgement against him irrespective. If the mother refuses, the same metric can be used and for example, the court may decide that paternity has not been established and the mother will lose any entitlement to paternity support. Different states have different laws, so it is always important to consult a lawyer on such matters.

Establishing Paternity Through a Legal Paternity Test

So what type of tests are available today?

Image of DNA by, CC0.
Image of DNA by, CC0.

Home DNA tests may be more accessible and affordable, but the results may not be legally acknowledged in court because they can be easily tampered with since there is no chain of custody procedure involved to confirm the identity of the participating parties. The remedy is therefore to go for a court admissible paternity test – this may sound more complicated than home DNA tests, but it’s still a relatively straightforward process.

Once the court imposes a DNA test, what you should do is schedule an appointment with an accredited laboratory in your area or an approved sampler. The sample collection will need to be collected by an authorized third party to ensure that the true identity of the donors are independently verified. During the sampling process, identification documents will be required and at no point are the participants to have access to the testing kit. The sampler will ensure samples are collected, sealed and sent directly to the laboratory for testing. Upon receipt, the laboratory will ensure the samples are sealed and chain of custody is preserved. Then testing will commence and an official result is issued. This procedure ensures none of the participants can dispute the result.

Bottom Line

We have highlighted how it is not possible to force a person to take a DNA paternity test without intervention by the Court. And even when a court orders the test to be performed it is still possible for the one of the parties to refuse – with all the legal ramifications that come with it. So essentially for the benefit of the child and clarity, it is always recommended that participants test willingly and save a lot of stress and expense all-round.

And once the test has been ordered by the Court then it is important to make sure to go to an accredited testing facility for your court admissible DNA test. Experienced providers such as EasyDNA UK will have the necessary technical, scientific and support structures, including collection points across the US, to meet all your DNA testing needs and make the whole process as stress free as possible.

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