This topic contains information on the following subjects:
Paternity testing provides scientific evidence that can be used in determining a child's parentage or in eliminating the wrong person from consideration. Test results can be presented to the court as evidence or can aid an alleged father in making a decision to voluntarily admit paternity. However, testing alone is not a determination of paternity.
It might be appropriate to conduct paternity testing for a child in a CSS case if there has been no judicial determination of parentage or no voluntary declaration of paternity by the child's parents. Paternity testing should be explained and offered to participants in any case in which it might be appropriate, including:
Paternity tests can be conducted by agreement of the parties, by the use of an administrative subpoena, or by court order. Paternity testing is strongly recommended for all appropriate cases. The certainty of biological parentage offers many advantages, including the acceptance of a parental responsibility, the foundation for a medical history, and the stability of family relationships.
If paternity testing is appropriate but an alleged father fails to request it in a disputed paternity case, the local CSS agency should initiate the testing, even if it involves payment by the agency. The timely resolution of paternity can produce an earlier establishment of support obligations and a reduced need for Public Assistance (PA), as well as a reduction of the program resources that are needed. These benefits can far outweigh any initial expense that the CSS agency might bear.
Federal regulation at 45 CFR 303.5 requires CSS agencies to secure testing services from laboratories that perform legally and medically acceptable paternity tests to identify or exclude an alleged father. CSS agencies must obtain testing services through a competitive procurement process and at a reasonable cost. Any selected laboratory must be accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). CSS agencies must make available a list of such laboratories to the appropriate courts, law enforcement officials, and general public upon request.
The following factors should be taken into consideration when selecting a laboratory:
1. The laboratory's ability to handle the required volume;
2. Established quality control procedures;
3. The quality of reports that indicate the likelihood of paternity when the noncustodial parent (NCP) is not excluded; and
4. The availability of an expert witness.
NC DHHS enters into contracts with laboratories for paternity testing for child support cases. Paternity testing services under a State contract are available to all county/local CSS agencies. However, paternity testing for any other purposes cannot be conducted under this contract. Federal reimbursement of test costs is available at the rate of sixty-six percent (66%) of the costs. The county bears the cost of the remaining share, unless the NCP agrees or is ordered by the court to pay some or all of that cost.
The State-contracted laboratory is:
Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp)
P.O. Box 2200
1440 York Court Extension
Burlington, NC 27215
County/local CSS agencies can elect to enter into individual contracts with a laboratory. The selection of a laboratory must comply with 45 CFR 303.5 requirements. All scheduling, costs, payments, and consultation are managed in accordance with that contract and not associated with the State contract.
Paternity testing can be initiated by:
If paternity has not been determined (either voluntarily or by court order) and no judicial action to establish paternity has been filed with the court, paternity testing can be initiated by agreement of the parties involved. Voluntary testing offers the advantages of a quick resolution of the issue of paternity, a less adversarial environment, and the possible elimination of need for judicial action.
Testing by agreement is NOT appropriate if:
If a child has a legal father, voluntary testing of another man should not be conducted, except as approved by the CSS agency attorney.
Any agreement for voluntary testing must be made in writing. It should contain all terms of agreement and be signed by the custodial parent (CP) and the alleged father. Any attorney representing either party or an adult representative for a minor parent also might sign the agreement.
The provisions of this agreement should include:
When all terms of the agreement are determined, CSS workers:
Although a voluntary agreement is not binding, the failure of a signor to abide by the terms of the agreement could be introduced to the court in a judicial action as an act of bad faith. For more information on voluntary paternity testing, see Paternity Testing Process.
Under NCGS 110-132.2, CSS has the authority to subpoena a minor child, the minor child's mother, and the minor child's alleged father (including the mother's husband, if different from the alleged father) to submit to paternity testing. If a judicial action to establish paternity has been filed with the court, CSS can issue an administrative subpoena for paternity testing without a judicial order.
Testing by subpoena allows CSS to expedite a judicial paternity action. Conducting the sample collection prior to the initial hearing can provide adequate time for test results to be returned and presented as evidence at that hearing, thereby avoiding the need for a continuance of the matter.
An administrative subpoena must be served in accordance with Rule 4 of NC Rules of Civil Procedure. Refusal to comply with a subpoena could result in a finding of contempt by the court.
A person who is subpoenaed to submit to testing can contest the subpoena. To contest the subpoena, that person must:
The hearing must be held and a determination made on whether the petitioner must comply with the subpoena within thirty (30) days of the request for a hearing. Once testing is completed, a person who is tested by subpoena can contest the results of the paternity test. CSS must schedule and conduct additional testing after the contesting party makes full payment for new testing.
In a civil court action for paternity, the court can order paternity testing at the request of any party. NCGS 8-50.1 requires the requesting party to pay the cost of testing. Additionally, NCGS 49-14 requires paternity testing in any contested civil case if the child is more than three (3) years old or if the alleged father is deceased.
If the court orders paternity testing, the civil action must be continued to a date that provides adequate time for the completion of sample collection, testing, and notification to all parties of the results. Any party can contest the testing procedures or results by filing written objections with the court not less than ten (10) days before a hearing in which the results are to be introduced as evidence and by serving notice all parties to the action. If the procedures or results are contested, CSS must arrange additional testing. The requestor is responsible for the cost of the additional testing.
If no objection is filed, the results are admissible without proof of authenticity or accuracy. These results have the following effect:
In a criminal court action, the court must order paternity testing if the question of paternity is raised. The court is responsible for all scheduling, sample collection, and payment for testing.
Paternity test samples and test results for individuals who are tested under the State contract that are maintained by the testing laboratory can be used in subsequent testing conducted under this contract. Rather than collecting new samples, using existing samples or results can reduce the time and cost of subsequent testing.
DNA samples or results obtained for testing under the State contract can be reused for subsequent tests, including:
When CSS makes a decision to conduct paternity testing, workers take the following steps to conduct testing:
1. Workers create a paternity test record.
2. They schedule the collection of test samples.
3. Provide notice of paternity testing to all parties.
4. Conduct sample collection.
5. Notify the parties of the test results.
The responsibility for payment of paternity tests and associated costs depends on multiple factors:
1. The alleged father's ability to pay test costs;
2. County responsibility for payment of paternity test costs;
3. The terms of any voluntary agreement reached by the parties;
4. Whether the action for court-ordered tests is civil or criminal; and
5. Whether the case is intrastate or intergovernmental.
When testing is at the alleged father's request rather than by order of the court, CSS workers should discuss the cost of testing with him and determine his ability to pay the cost of testing. If the alleged father as the ability to pay, CSS workers should attempt to secure an agreement for him to pay for all or some portion of the cost.
If the alleged father is unwilling or unable to pay the initial cost of testing in a relatively short period of time, the CSS agency should assume the initial cost rather than delay testing. The benefits of determining paternity and establishing a support order at an earlier date are greater than any costs that might be saved by delaying the testing. The CSS agency also can consider asking the court to order that the alleged father reimburse the agency for some or all of the cost if he found to be the father and is placed under an order to provide support. However, if the alleged father is found NOT to be the responsible parent, an order for reimbursement of paternity testing is not appropriate.
The county can pay the initial cost of voluntary or civil court-ordered paternity testing. Two (2) options exist for the final responsibility for the cost. The CSS agency can choose to:
When voluntary testing is conducted, all terms of the agreement (including the responsibility for payment of test costs) should be stated in a written agreement for paternity testing that is signed by all parties to the agreement.
The agreement should address initial payment as well as the terms for any repayment plan. Payment due dates should be specified.
If the NCP agrees to pay the test cost initially, county CSS receipts and retains the payment as revenue according to county financial procedures. No federal funds or reimbursement are involved.
If it is agreed or ordered that the NCP will reimburse the county for any portion of the cost that the agency initially paid, the responsibility for payment must be included in the support order. Payments must be made to North Carolina Child Support Centralized Collections (NCCSCC).
In civil cases, NCGS 8-50.1 requires that the party who requests testing be responsible initially for the paternity testing costs. The expense for testing, expert witnesses, or other fees can be assigned or apportioned at the discretion of the court.
In civil cases, both parties can consider joint movement for paternity testing and stipulate the conditions of payment of costs when it is in the best interest of all concerned. If the local/ county CSS agency is the moving party or has agreed to be responsible for the cost, county funds are used for payments.
If county reimbursement is included in a support order, payments must be made to NCCSCC.
CSS has no involvement in payment for paternity testing in criminal court actions. If he District Attorney's Office moves to have paternity tests performed, the Administrative Office of the Court (AOC) is responsible for initial expenses. If the alleged father/ defendant prevails, AOC remains responsible for payment. If the alleged father/ defendant does not prevail, he is responsible for the expenses, if so ordered by the court. If the alleged father/ defendant is found to be indigent, as defined at NCGS 7A-450, AOC pays for any costs not otherwise paid, regardless of who prevails.
If the alleged father/ defendant is not deemed indigent and moves for the test, he is responsible initially for the expenses. If the alleged father/ defendant does not prevail, he remains responsible for the costs. If he prevails and is adjudicated not to be the father of the child, AOC can reimburse him.
If paternity tests are necessary in an intergovernmental case, the responding state/ entity is responsible for paying the test costs, as well as for scheduling and other arrangements for testing.
Billing procedures vary depending on whether the case is civil or criminal, what funds are being used for payment, and the terms of the laboratory contract under which the testing is conducted. The testing laboratory submits bills to the appropriate entity. The receiving entity should review the bill for accuracy and contact the laboratory immediately if discrepancies are found.
Paternity testing that results in the exclusion of a man as the biological father of a child does not constitute a legal determination of non-paternity. However, test results are evidence that the court can consider in making such a determination.
If paternity testing excludes the alleged father as the biological father of a child, the appropriate course of action is based on whether a judicial or voluntary determination of paternity has been made, a marital presumption of paternity exists, or the child has no legally responsible father.
If a judicial or voluntary determination of paternity has been entered:
If no legally responsible father exists for the child:
When no legally responsible father exists and depending on the circumstances of the case, CSS evaluates the case and takes any of the following actions that might be appropriate.
CSS keeps the case with the excluded NCP open.
If the CP states that the excluded man is indeed the father, the case should remain open until circumstances are reviewed and evaluated. Before closing the case, CSS reviews and documents the following in the case record:
CSS pursues paternity of any other alleged father who is the NCP in an open CSS case.
If an open case for this child exists with another alleged father as the NCP, CSS takes the appropriate actions to pursue paternity:
CSS opens a case with a newly identified alleged father.
CSS closes the case with the excluded NCP.
The case is closed if no reason exists to believe that this man might be the child's biological father and no indication exists that he wishes to assume the parental responsibility.
If a Non-Public Assistance (NPA) case in which the NCP is excluded is closed and the CP has not identified another alleged father or is unsure of the identity of the father:
If a Public Assistance (PA) case in which the NCP is excluded is closed and the CP has not identified another alleged father or is unsure of the identity of the father:
For questions or clarification on any of the policy contained in these manuals, please contact your local county office.