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Massachusetts Paternity

I often get calls from individuals, both men and women, looking for more information about Massachusetts Paternity Law so I thought it would be a good idea to detail a few key facts about paternity actions and offer a couple of recommendations as well.

In Massachusetts, you’ll typically see a paternity case brought to obtain child support and/or custody and visitation rights. A paternity action is usually initiated in these two situations.

One, as part of a divorce or separation. In this situation, the father is typically pushing for a paternity hearing because he suspects the child is not his.

Or two, between two parents who were not married at the time of the birth, or are still not married. In Massachusetts you are responsible for the support of a child born out of wedlock – to age eighteen if the child does not attend college and to the age of twenty-three if they do.

As you can see from the two scenarios above, paternity action can be initiated by the father, or supposed father, as well as the mother.

Actual proof of paternity is done by DNA testing that is managed by the Massachusetts courts. The court has outsourced the DNA collection to a medical clinic – and all that needs to be done is a simple mouth swab.

And because DNA testing is so reliable, the results will almost always influence the courts decision.

That being said, here’s a couple of recommendations to think about before you initiate a paternity action.

For the mother – If the father, or supposed father, has agreed to child support, do not push for paternity testing. In Massachusetts, if he has already agreed to child support, he’s stuck paying it – regardless of paternity. You’ll probably still end-up in court but you’ll be in a much stronger position.

For the father – establishing paternity is always a good idea. And it should be done before you initiate any custody or visitation action. If you wait on establishing paternity, you’re likely to get stuck paying child support even if the child is not yours.

If you are a parent with a paternity issue and are not sure what to do, or how to do it, call me at (617) 652-5748 to discuss your particular situation. Or if you prefer click here to email me:

I’ll spend a few minutes answering your questions – and you’ll know in short-order what you need to do.

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