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Paternity Tests: When Do You Need One?

Like many states, Texas has adopted the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) to govern jurisdiction and procedures in paternity and child support suits.  Under the UPA, a court may order genetic testing upon the request of a party in a paternity suit.  Genetic testing, however, may not always be necessary to establish paternity.

The UPA provides a number of situations in which the law presumes paternity.  These include the following:

  • When a man is married to a mother and a child is born during the marriage or within 300 days of its dissolution
  • When a man marries a mother after the birth of a child and voluntarily asserts his paternity
  • When a man resided in the same household as a child for the first two years of the life of the child and held himself out to the public as the father

In these cases, the law presumes the man is the father and the mother usually need not request genetic testing in a paternity or support proceeding.

In cases where there is no presumed father or where the alleged father denies his paternity, a mother seeking child support or to otherwise establish paternity may need to seek a court order for genetic testing.  A laboratory accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks or similar organization must perform these tests for them to be admissible as evidence of paternity.

In Texas, courts grant these orders in most cases unless equity or the conduct of the parties demands otherwise.  An alleged father who fails to submit to court-ordered genetic testing may be subject to civil or criminal contempt.

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Robert Reid McInvale
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Robert Reid McInvale is an experienced family law attorney with a comprehensive practice in Houston. He provides dedicated and strong advocacy for his clients, helping them with all the issues surrounding their divorce, separation, child custody, and other marriage and family matters. Attorney McInvale—Reid to clients and friends—seemed destined for a law career. Born while his father was attending Emory University Law School, Reid grew up in Manchester, GA. His father was the city attorney for many years, as well as head of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It is in the family blood to become lawyers and help people get justice. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall is part of the McInvale family tree.

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