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DNA testing to establish paternity

Some Arizona residents may have read about some high-profile paternity cases. For example, an early girlfriend of Mick Jagger's took him to court over the paternity of her daughter, and the two eventually became close. The founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, was also forced to acknowledge paternity of his daughter after a DNA test.

If parents are not married when a child is born, the man is not automatically considered to legally be the father and may not be listed on the birth certificate. It may be necessary to have a DNA test in order to establish paternity. Once paternity is legally established, the father is then responsible for child support.

DNA paternity testing is noninvasive. It involves swabbing the cheek or mouth, and it is accurate at a rate higher than 99.99 percent. The DNA test must stand up in court, so it has to be performed at a health department, hospital, medical office or other certified facility. Most DNA labs that perform these types of tests for legal reasons have strict procedures to help ensure the accuracy of the test results including what is called a "chain of custody" for keeping the sample safe. The sample is also typically tested twice for accuracy.

Establishing paternity might also mean that the father has visitation rights to see the child. In fact, in some cases, it might be the father instead of the mother who is primarily pressing for DNA testing in order to establish those rights. Whether it is a paternity case or a divorce, child support is established by looking at factors such as the child's needs, whether the parents are supporting other children and incomes. Medical insurance may also be a consideration. If a parent's income changes, a child support modification might be necessary.

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