DNA Paternity Testing In Child Support and Custody Cases
While laws currently vary among states, one common thread connecting cases involving custody and child support is the need to establish proof-of-relationship. In the former case, the individual seeking custody must prove his relationship to the child; in the latter instance, proof-of-paternity is considered to be the burden of the child-support claimant. With historical policy relying more upon common law, and “reasonable” expectations, the science behind paternity testing has landed a solid blow to the gut of established practices for accepting paternity claims.
Today, increasing numbers of incredulous fathers are meeting the shocking realization that one—or more—of “their” children aren’t really theirs. Such startling news invariably presents a level of psychological trauma that few men are prepared to confront; in a surprisingly large number of cases, the claimed father realizes that, on top of everything, he has been defrauded into providing years—and perhaps tens-of-thousands of dollars worth—of unjustified child support payments.
Consider the case of California father Bert Riddick. The Los Angeles Times reports that as he was preparing for a business trip in 1991, Riddick’s then fiancée uncovered a court summons in which his ex-girlfriend had named him as the father of her newborn child. Having been unable to attend the hearing because of his employment obligation, he returned to learn that his wages were being garnished; the traditional “guilty-unless-proven-innocent” policy had essentially pegged Riddick as the father by default.
The life of Riddick’s new family rapidly descended toward financial ruin. Shackled with the court-ordered wage garnishments that followed him from one job to the next, he was soon unable to support his now growing family. With the birth of her second child, Riddick’s wife was forced into welfare; his car was repossessed; his family was evicted from their rental home.
The Riddicks were now crammed into a tiny section of a family member’s home, the children now sharing a single small room. Bert Riddick’s life—and the life of his family—had been turned upside-down, by what a simple paternity test would ultimately prove to be a fraudulent claim of paternity.
The $80,000 Lie
Not only did Michigan native Doug Richardson pay roughly $80,000 in fraudulent child support over a period of 15 years, but, according to the Detroit News, he also claims to have been forced to support the true father, both during—and after—the man’s relationship with Richardson’s ex-wife.
"This has torn me up for 15 years," said Richardson. "I've had to file bankruptcy. I have back taxes. It has destroyed my life."
Now he’s looking to fight back.
Richardson, with the help of DADS of Michigan founder Murray Davis, is lobbying for support of legislation that would offer relief, including requiring courts to nullify child support orders, where paternity tests have proven paternity fraud.
Such a law would add Michigan—where more than a quarter of 2005’s nearly 10,000 out-of-wedlock DNA paternity tests were negative—to the list of at least a dozen states with similar legal protections. Georgia law, for instance, allows for termination of child support obligations for men with proof of non-paternity. Maryland has abolished the time limit for paternity challenges—a measure under consideration in many other states.
The fact is that paternity testing is becoming an integral legal component in the realm of paternity claims throughout the United States.
Fortunately, unlike alleged fathers 15 years ago, men facing paternity claims today have an extremely simple, and incredibly reliable, means for avoiding the strife that has plagued families like the Richardsons and the Riddicks. A quick, confidential and reliable IDENTIGENE DNA Paternity test is almost always the difference between wondering and knowing; usually, such tests also prove to be the difference between total despair and lasting relief.
Obviously, the good news extends beyond individuals facing new paternity claims. Men’s rights advocates have exerted pressure in recent years, helping to push many states in the direction of legislation that would rectify situations of past paternity fraud cases. Whereas until quite recently, proof of non-paternity did little to absolve victims of such deception, many states have enacted—or are in process of enacting—statutes aimed at righting past wrongs; especially where finances are concerned. In other words, today’s paternity test could conceivably release a defrauded father from the unfair burden of child support payments, on even a decade old paternity claim.
Satisfied IDENTIGENE DNA Paternity Test customer Pedro Hernandez provides this real-life example:
"I'm married with two children, but am separated from my spouse. I've been paying child support for more than five years. Thanks to IDENTIGENE I was able to do a private paternity test on both of my children. I was so devastated when I got the Paternity Analysis Report that I thought I was going to die.
The Paternity Analysis Report read that the probability of paternity was 0% for both of my children. I took this case to court and the Paternity Analysis Report served as evidence. It was proven in court that this DNA test Analysis was true. The court dismissed the child support and freed me of all responsibilities. Thanks again IDENTIGENE"
Waking the Deadbeats
On the other side of the paternity claim coin, is the unfortunate instance in which a legitimate father attempts to disclaim responsibility for one of his own. Literally hundreds of thousands of children are born each year “fatherless,” with the mother left out in the cold. The sad truth is that many estranged fathers attempt to avoid their duty to pay child support, conveniently denying their paternity. Fortunately, IDENTIGENE DNA Paternity Tests can help put an immediate end to such despicable practices.
In such cases, the same paternity test used to aid men in situations like Bert Riddick’s can be employed to add cement to legitimate paternity claims. While current DNA technology can absolutely exclude a putative father, it can also—with levels of accuracy well exceeding 99%—help prevent potential “deadbeat dads” from shirking their moral responsibilities.
When appropriate, most state courts will now order legal paternity tests, such as those offered by IDENTIGENE, to conclusively determine paternity. If test results indicate paternity, the fathers are generally advised to sign an acknowledgement of the fact; otherwise, it becomes a matter for a judge (and in some cases, a jury) to handle. However, due to the well-established, and almost universally accepted, accuracy of AABB-accredited DNA testing by laboratories like IDENTIGENE, such cases rarely go to trail.
Keeping Ties Bound
Another area in which DNA can add significant influence is in child custody cases. In laws that vary by state, parentage is generally defined either according to biology, the historical role of the parent, or a combination of the two. In cases in which a paternal biological relationship is in question, paternity testing is often the difference between granting and denying custody and visitation rights. In regions in which biological proof takes precedence, DNA is often the factor that prevents familial links from being broken.
The most common application of DNA testing in child custody cases arises from a mother’s claim of non-paternity against a former cohabitant. In many such cases, the paternal figure in the child's life has always considered the child to be his own, meeting such a proclamation with complete shock. In his mind, there was never any doubt that he was the child's father; only with the dissolution of the relationship did the purported revelation emerge.
Depending on local statutes, such a claim might be sufficient for placing the burden of proof on the shoulders of the putative father. It is in such cases that paternity testing as court-admissible evidence can be crucial. By offering into evidence the results of a legal paternity test, such as those offered by IDENTIGENE, fathers concerned about potentially losing their children can introduce virtually incontrovertible proof-of-paternity.
Similarly, in cases where evidence of a father's historical relationship with a purported child is insufficient to guarantee custody, DNA evidence can also add measurable weight to a case looking to prove non-paternity. When a father makes the assumption of biological paternity but has a questionable relationship history with the claimed child, a 100% exclusion of the man as biological father could change the dynamic of the case considerably. Imagine degrading the man’s status in the court's eyes from “semi-absent father” to “occasional male visitor” in the short time it takes to simply read paternity test results.
Sadly, a far too common declaration made by those who finally do seek out child support and custody-related DNA paternity tests is “I only wish I had done this sooner.” Such individuals belatedly realize that their initial fear of learning the truth was insignificant compared to the prospect of not knowing. Increasing numbers of these mothers and fathers are employing technological advances in genetics to add quantifiable strength to the answers to their paternity-related questions.
Putting Relationships to the Test
IDENTIGENE's legal DNA paternity testing establishes legal proof-of-paternity/non-paternity for a variety of legal applications, including child support and custody cases, as well as social security purposes. The process, though subject to stringent collection standards, is still painless, and relatively simple for all participants.
As an independent party to the case, the appointed collector ensures that each participant is properly identified, officially witnessing the collection of each sample. This individual is responsible for mailing samples directly to the lab—eliminating the possibility of any tampering or contamination by participating parties.
IDENTIGENE is one of a select group of labs accredited by both the AABB and ISO standards bodies, the organizations responsible for monitoring the legal DNA testing process. The collection process and materials used are subject to strict AABB/ISO guidelines.
Collecting the Proof
IDENTIGENE provides the collector with a complete legal DNA collection kit, which includes the following forms and collection materials for each participant:
* Chain-of-custody forms
* Pre-addressed air bill
* Plastic bio-hazard bag
Acceptable identification includes items government-issued photo identification.
The official process is completed in three easy steps:
1) The collector reviews all identification and documentation, and—along with all participants—signs and dates photocopies of each. (Acceptable identification, photos are taken in most cases.)
2) Each participant signs (where possible) and dates the completed chain-of-custody form, which the collector certifies with their signature.
3) Sample collection is completed in the collector’s presence, after which test swabs are sealed in their respective envelopes, and—together with the completed documentation—submitted to IDENTIGENE’s lab for testing.
It's that simple.
And as always, IDENTIGENE’s Client Services representatives are available to provide assistance with this—or any other—testing process. Our goal is to make your entire experience as smooth and painless as possible.
The Trusted Name of IDENTIGENE
IDENTIGENE’s genetics laboratory analyzes markers according to the FBI-developed Combined DNA Index System (CODIS); focusing on these 15 important genetic signposts helps ensure that customers enjoy the most reliable paternity test method commercially available.
In addition, IDENTIGENE's unique dual-sample testing process concurrently examines multiple instances of genetic specimens in-parallel, yielding extremely high levels of accuracy, with inclusion probabilities regularly exceeding 99.99%.
IDENTIGENE paternity test results are released as early as 2-3 business days following receipt of viable specimens. Upon test completion, our data reporting specialists prepare detailed genetics analyses that you can access immediately online.
IDENTIGENE has distinguished itself with an unparalleled combination of rigid scientific discipline and technical excellence. Its pool of Ph.D. and M.S. scientists is dedicated to the tireless spirit of innovation. Behind its bona-fide research and development team, IDENTIGENE and its professionals aren't merely implementing technology; they're creating it.
IDENTIGENE’s paternity test clients can be assured that they are in the best hands in the industry. By its perpetual drive to innovate and improve the speed, accuracy and comprehensiveness of DNA testing, IDENTIGENE actively participates in the pursuit of perfection in the industry.
Confidentiality & Personalized Service
IDENTIGENE's unsurpassed testing facilities mean fast, accurate results, delivered professionally and privately. But the IDENTIGENE commitment to excellence doesn't stop there; every IDENTIGENE customer is backed by a dedicated team of friendly and discreet client services representatives, available during extended hours to answer your questions.
For more information visit: www.dnatesting.com