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Why paternity matters to you and your child

Paternity is an important fact to prove if you're unsure if a child is yours. Paternity isn't just for your benefit. While it can help you obtain and confirm your parental rights, paternity also helps your child know where he or she came from, your medical history and other important information.

When you have a child while married, it's automatically assumed that the child is yours. Now that you're going through a divorce, if you're concerned about paying child support because you don't believe your child is yours, you may want to seek out a DNA test.

Paternity is assumed when you are married, get married after your child's birth or when you sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity with the mother of the child. There are other instances when it's assumed as well. If you're not sure if a child is yours, you may wish to talk to your attorney about seeking a DNA test to prove your relationship. If it comes back negative, then you may not be liable for child support, depending on your situation.

Why is determining paternity important for a child?

A child who knows his or her family's history, health risks and other information has more to help him or her if ever ill or suffering from a disorder or disease. It's also important, because if the child wants to have a child of his or her own, that genetic information may be helpful in knowing what to expect.

Determining paternity also helps a child obtain the right to aid from a father as well as the right to certain benefits or governmental assistance if his or her parent dies.

Should you seek a paternity test if you've already been raising the child as your own?

You can seek a paternity test whenever you want. Even if it doesn't change how you feel about the child, it's important to be sure about the child's background for other purposes. Your attorney can help you get a DNA test during a divorce if you choose to do so.

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