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DNA, child support and paternity?

post #1 of 57
Thread Starter 
I put this thread in "Activism" because I feel that child support is a children's rights issue. If it needs to be moved, that's fine too.

I've recently read a few articles about how DNA is changing the way we view paternity as a society. Apparently, one change has been that men who've had father-child relationships with children for years are having DNA tests done and proving they are not the father. Of course, these tests are ususally done after a messy break-up with the child's mother. I'm not even going to get into that part of it...

So, obviously, children are being hurt by this. What can be done? I have an idea, but I'm sure it's got some downside to it. So I'm hoping maybe we can discuss this issue with a focus on what is best for the children invovled.

My idea is that paternity can be contested until the child is a certain age. After that, paternity cannot be contested by either parent because a father-child relationship has been established, regardless of DNA. I think a good age would be two, because while it would certainly be painful for a toddler to loose their father, the child will most likely not remember it.

With DNA becoming cheaper all the time, this is an issue we will surely be faced with more and more often. What are some other ideas of how to handle this? Or should fathers legally be allowed to test their child for paternity at any age?
post #2 of 57
My ex insisted on a dna test when our son was 9 years old. (year and a half ago) The funny thing is, they look EXACTLY alike!
Let me tell you what a slap in the face that was. Especially as we had broken up when he was 3. Funny, he wouldnt pay for half of his perscription glasses but seemed to find $600 for the test....
Anyway, my lawyer explained to me that even if it came out that he wasnt the father, ds recognized him as a father and he would still have to pay support.
So, I'm happy with our courts line of thinking. I would hope all courts would look at the interests of the child - especially after the child has bonded with this man as the father.
post #3 of 57
My off-the-cuff first guess is that such a system would help destabilize marriages, in that it would help prompt a man to question paternity...and not only that, but relatively soon after a child is born. Whether or not the test is negative, some damage has likely been done - just as, for instance, damage is done when a partner thinks the other has been cheating, and becomes so insecure about it that s/he checks up on the partner, only to find, lo and behold, that there's no evidence of cheating.

I suppose the interesting question here is: what does it mean to be a parent, and to what extent, if at all, is "actual" parenthood tied up with biological parenthood?
post #4 of 57
I think it's great that courts are finally recognizing that parenthood is more than biological.

I hear the DNA tests aren't 100% accutate - that they can only prove that you're NOT the father, not that you are the father. They can show you could have been the father, but if there are many possible fathers to choose from (let's say someone was gang-raped by 20 men) and it shows that 15 aren't the father and 5 could have been, what does the woman do then?

Also, can a man legally refuse a DNA test?
post #5 of 57
it's the wave of the future, better get used to it. we're entering a golden age where we're going to discover just how much hanky panky is going on out there.

you can blame the brits: a few years back a genetics study was started that sampled the DNA of all new borns and the couple who claimed to be their parents. the study was cancelled once they started discovering something like 1 in 5 babies were not related to the guy in the delivery room: word spread, consent signatures became scarce.
post #6 of 57
Yup, those stats jive pretty well with those found in the U.S. when tests are done to determine whether a person is a potential organ or tissue donor for a parent or child. Approximately 20% are not related at all (leading to one of several ethical questions - what should the doc tell the person who provided the sample?)

Re this:
Quote:
I think it's great that courts are finally recognizing that parenthood is more than biological.
Actually, it's quite the opposite. Only relatively recently have some courts decided that they'll allow a husband to disavow paternity (with all its rights and duties) on the basis of a DNA test re a child born during the marriage. According to this view, it's the genes that matter, or whether the person did the deed, rather than the person's emotional and material relationship with the child. And genes have been gaining even more prominence in family law in recent years, what with a number of prominent cases concerning the right of one individual to use frozen embryos produced during a marriage or relationship after the relationship goes south. At least to the best of my knowledge, all such cases have come down on the side of the parent who DOESN'T want to reproduce to bar use of the embryos, even if the other parent is willing to not seek any support of any kind from the unwilling one.
post #7 of 57
Sometimes I wonder if we should just test every child at birth. If it's everyone, all the time, there should not be trust issues.
I do think there should be a limit to contest paternity, say 2 years. Also, you shouldn't be able to track down a man and demand 9 years child support for a nine-year-old that the father doesn't know about. That should be a 2 year limit, too.
In my genetics studies, the often quoted figure is 10% mis-identified paternity. That seems to hold true for religious families in religious communities in the US (not to name names) as well as urban British hospitals and tribes living deep in the rain forest.
I know of two cases, personal friends and family, both married couples. No one ever suspected, seriously! The kids looked like Mom and sort of like Dad and I never questioned it. Life is strange, huh?
Did you hear about the woman who was not genetically related to her children? She was a chimera of two fertilized eggs. Her mouth had one DNA pattern and her ovaries had the other. So the cheek swab did not match the children. Can you imagine not being related (well, sort of) to your children, that you birthed?
post #8 of 57
Great topic, pug!

I have to disagree with Marlena: your marriage was already in trouble if your DH has to question paternity, or if you have to follow your spouse around to see if he's being faithful.

I'm heartened by those who claim that law recognizes the bond established between a man and child regardless of genetics.

As an adopted child myself, I am all too aware of how little DNA factors into parenting and a sense of family.
post #9 of 57
Quote:
I have to disagree with Marlena: your marriage was already in trouble if your DH has to question paternity, or if you have to follow your spouse around to see if he's being faithful.
ITA with your statement. I think, though, that if men knew they had a two year window in which to contest paternity or else it would be shut forever, it might prompt men who would otherwise give it a passing thought and then let it go to instead go through with the testing, to everyone's detriment.

For women, maternity is a biological fact. For men, it's taken on faith. Why do something that's bound to shake the faith, particularly when men are generally so insecure about the matter anyway (hence many of our cultural and legal conventions regarding marriage and paternity)?
post #10 of 57
Will not rehash the story from another thread, but will put it out in hypothetical.

And if a wife leaves the husband before she even takes a pregnancy test, moves in with her lover, sues for divorce while still in the first trimester ... ie., the husband has the DNA but not the child, and another man (the lover) is claiming the child as his ... is that DNA determinative of anything except that the DNA provider is required to pay money?

The lover has zero incentive to legally adopt the child, because then the family unit (mother, lover, and child) lose a source of nontaxable income (read: the DNA-provider no longer would have to send them money every month).

Remembering that there are several sides to a story.

The courts in NY have stated (as someone in the above-referenced situation was told) that a child born within the legal boundaries of a marriage will not lose that presumption of legitimacy. Despite the fact that the mother sued for divorce while the child was in the early stages of gestation ... because the divorce was not final for several years.










Another relevant tale, was from the news some years ago (about 5 or 6, but then it was already a little old) about a couple who froze some embryos for themselves, but then a few years later divorced. A few years after that (the ex-husband had remarried & had a family, the ex-wife had not) the ex-wife decided to take those frozen embryos and have a baby.

The ex-husband was made to pay child support. Didn't have much choice in the parenting part, and doesn't have much choice about the payment part either.









Am surprised, pugmadmama, that you would suggest that testing for paternity should be allowable post-birth at all. Particularly because of the inability of paternity testing to be 100% despositive of paternity ...
post #11 of 57
I didn't get that the OP was suggesting paternity tests be used for or against monetary compensation.

I got the idea that she was pointing out the potential for damaged relationships between children and their fathers should the father learn late in the child's life that he's not the biological parent.

While I agree that such things *may* pose potential emotional harm to the children, I think disallowing paternity tests would fall into a zone of restricted personal rights that I'm not comfortable with. It reminds me of closed adoption laws where nobody was allowed to see the records even if both parties wanted to.

I am having a hard time putting myself in a position where I would truly care if I found out my child was not genetically mine. Again, this probably comes from being adopted and recognizing how unimportant that factor is in a relationship between parent and child. The hurt would more likely be extended to the person who lied and/or cheated to set up that situation. Certainly I could not love my daughter any less!

If a father found out years later that the child he raised as his own was not his, why would that change anything? I actually have to question (as I think this through further) why this would need to be so hurtful to either parent or child. After all, the reality is that many children are not biologically related to their parents. Perhaps getting that message out loud and clear in our society would lessen the blow of discovering that the person they know as Dad simply doesn't share their genes.
post #12 of 57
Quote:
Originally posted by Piglet68

If a father found out years later that the child he raised as his own was not his, why would that change anything?
i think for most men, they'd get over it, and the relationship with the child could continue. now, the relationship with the mother, that would probably be a completely different story...

there's a lot of biology going on under the surface that as a society we're turning a blind eye to. for instance, it is now well documented that the timing of female acts of marital infidelity is correlated with the fertility cycle - ie, concisously or not, women are *trying* to get knocked-up outside the marital bond.

i'm not particularly shocked by this: what might appeal to a women as a set of genes to pass along is not always the same as what appeals to a women in the sense of "i want up wake up next to these genes every morning", KWIM?
post #13 of 57
Piglet, I think the issue is not simply that people would have any big problem with raising a child that is not biologically theors (although some would, certainly) but that unlike a simple adoption equation we are talking about situations in which the lack of biology is evidence of a deeper treachery. It is proof of lies and infidelity. That's a big hurdle for many, many people.

ER touched on this last night. Anyone see it?
post #14 of 57
Quote:
Originally posted by dado
there's a lot of biology going on under the surface that as a society we're turning a blind eye to.
Yup. Reminds me of a famous study of monogamous bird mating pairs. These birds apparently mated for life. An unexpected finding when trying to genetically profile these birds was that a huge proportion of nests had chicks from multiple fathers. Few of these birds were "faithful" to the male who built the nest and supplied mama with food. It turned out to be a great way to promote genetic diversity, while maintaining a strong female/chick bond (due to help from a stable and loyal "spouse").

Oh the things animals teach us about ourselves!
post #15 of 57
Quote:
The lover has zero incentive to legally adopt the child, because then the family unit (mother, lover, and child) lose a source of nontaxable income (read: the DNA-provider no longer would have to send them money every month).
That income IS taxable in Canada, so getting it isn't an incentive, but giving it is, because it comes out of pre-tax dollars. So his income effectively goes down, and hers goes up and has to be taxed, sometimes shooting her into a higher and harsher tax bracket.

Dickwad, my name for my daughter's biodad, was the only man I slept with for almost two years. He was the only one there at her conception and there at her birth. And he even argued with me about which name was going to be on her certificate. And his parents tried to get him to marry me which I refused.

Then we split up. At that point, he started calling me a whore and a tramp and more. DD was eventually lost to CPS because of a family war my mother decided to start. He showed up at court a year and a half before the actual trial started and said he didn't want either me or my mother raising DD and that she should be adopted out. This is a man who gave up custody and it was a fight to get child support out of him!

Then, during all that, I start hearing that he's saying he's not her father and that I was a tramp. I just about flipped and if I hadn't lost custody of her to CPS, I would have demanded a DNA test. Even now, I still say she should get one when she comes of age.

-----------------------------------

My dad might not be my dad. Rumours abound that my mother was screwing two other men about the same time she conceived me. But my dad says that I am his daughter since I was born during the marriage and before the divorce was started and that I look like him. I'm still tempted to go on Maury and get a DNA test to prove that I'm his. Cause if I'm not, my mother and I will have words.....

-----------------------------------

Then there's DP. We're not married. I have no desire for him to make me an "honest woman" and we're having our second child together. I asked him what he thought about going on Maury for DNA testing. He said no, that it didn't matter. DS and DB are his even if they aren't biologically his and there's no need for a test to prove it.

Not like I've been sleeping around on him, but that just shows how much of a Man I have vs the boy that sired my DD.
post #16 of 57
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Piglet68
...If a father found out years later that the child he raised as his own was not his, why would that change anything? I actually have to question (as I think this through further) why this would need to be so hurtful to either parent or child...
From a USA Today article:

An acid sense of betrayal has been gnawing at Damon Adams since a DNA test showed that he is not the father of a 10-year-old girl born during his former marriage.

"Something changes in your heart," says Adams, 51, a dentist in Traverse City, Mich. "When she walks through the door, you're seeing the product of an affair."



From the website, Paternity Fraud.com :

From a letter a lawyer wrote to encouage a "paternity fraud" law in Georgia (bolds are mine): Opponents of the Bill have cited the "best interest of the children" and the necessity of a statute of limitations in an effort to derail the Bill, however, the logic behind these arguments is fallacious... There is no best interest because it is not your child. The best interest analysis is pretermited by your non-relationship.


I hate, absolutely hate, that in this day and age, so many people are still insisting that parenthood consists of nothing more than passing on DNA. And who gets hurt the most? The children involved.
post #17 of 57
saying it matters to pass along your own genes is not the same as saying it's the *only* thing that matters. the individual in that article has every right to feel betrayed.
post #18 of 57
It's amusing to me how these "paternity fraud" people switch the article from "best interests of the children" to "your child" (with a negative modifier thrown in) to make it sound as though by negating the paternity you negate the needs, perhaps even the very existance, of the child.

"I'm pissed at the mother and shall punish the child"
second verse, same as the first.
A little bit louder and a little bit worse!
post #19 of 57
Quote:
Originally posted by Apricot

Did you hear about the woman who was not genetically related to her children? She was a chimera of two fertilized eggs. Her mouth had one DNA pattern and her ovaries had the other. So the cheek swab did not match the children.
I read an article about that woman...it makes you question the validity of paternity testing, at least with negative results. There was also a scandal in Washington DC a few years back where a city health worker was accepting bribes to swap a suspected father's cheek swab with a stranger's...so that the paternity test would come out negative.

The age cut-off doesn't work for me though. It's just too arbitrary.
post #20 of 57
There is a law in Florida that says if a woman conceives as a result of rape, she cannot give the child up for adoption unless the "father" agrees to it, and he is entitled to visitation if the mother chooses to keep the child.

If the woman doesn't know the identity of the rapist, they run ads in the newspaper looking for him. The ads consist of a description of the woman, where and when conception took place, and any known physical characteristics of the man.
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