Written by attorney Matthew P. Barach

How To Establish Paternity in Massachusetts

Additional resources provided by the author

HOW TO PROVE PATERNITY Genetic Marker Test: When you file a Complaint to Establish Paternity and there is no Acknowledgment, then the judge may order this scientific test to find out whether a person is the father of the child. These tests can be expensive. If you are the party requesting the test, the judge may order you to pay for it at first. The judge may order the other party to pay you back if the test establishes that he is the father. Sometimes a judge may order the other party to pay for the test up front if you cannot afford the test. However, if the test shows that the other party is not the father, you may have to pay the other party back. In some cases, you might be eligible to have the Commonwealth of Massachusetts pay for the test. In order to request the state to pay for the test, you must file an Affidavit of Indigency when you file the Motion for Genetic Marker Tests with the court. Once the results of the genetic marker test are available, you will be notified. This can take approximately 3-4 weeks. If the test shows the person you say is the father actually is the father, you can file a Motion for Child Support. The judge will then review the test results and decide upon your request for child support IF YOU NEED CHILD SUPPORT IMMEDIATELY If you have filed your Complaint to Establish Paternity or any other paternity documents with the court and a Complaint for Support, Custody and Visitation and you need child support right away, you may be able to get it by requesting Temporary Orders. In order to ask for Temporary Orders, you can file a Motion for Child Support and request a Temporary Orders Hearing. At the hearing, you can request temporary child support, which allows you to get temporary child support while you wait for a final judgment in your paternity case. THINGS YOU SHOULD BE AWARE OF WHEN FILING A PATERNITY ACTION If you file a paternity action with the court, you should know that the person you want to legally establish is the father of your child could request visitation or even custody of the child. Visitation: Once you file a Complaint to Establish Paternity, the person you allege is the father now has an opportunity to seek visitation. If you do not think this is in your child’s best interest, you should know that many times the court will grant the visitation rights to the other parent. You should think carefully about the risks and benefits of visitation and consult an attorney if you have concerns. Custody: Sometimes, a person who is asked for support will seek custody of the child. If you were not married when the child was born or conceived, you automatically have custody of the child, but you should be prepared for the possibility that the person against whom you initiate custody proceedings will seek custody and seek the assistance of an attorney. Go to Mass Probate Court Forms on the MA website.

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