DNA and Child Custody Cases
Child custody cases are a minefield to be traversed with great care and consideration for all parties involved, especially the children. Bitterness and anger of warring parents can negatively impact innocent kids caught in the crossfire. Advances in DNA testing and analysis have injected science into these disputes, which can help to clear some obstacles to resolution of the case.
The laws and policies governing child custody vary in detail from state to state, but all have “the best interests of the child” as their paramount guiding principle. These laws usually define parentage by some combination of biology and the historical role of the parent. If the paternal relationship is in question, DNA testing can be the difference between granting and denying custody and visitation rights. In states where biological proof carries more weight, DNA testing can be an important source of evidence.
DNA Doesn’t Lie
Sometimes the mother cannot be certain of who is the child’s biological father. Or she might be inclined to identify the wrong man for one reason or another. For example, when a relationship has ended, a mother may claim that a former cohabitant is not the child’s father. Often the man considered and cared for the child as his own and has fulfilled the role of father. But her claim of non-paternity puts his custody rights in jeopardy. In these circumstances, a DNA paternity test can be used to prove a man’s paternity.
DNA doesn’t lie. A properly administered test of the mother, the child, and the presumed father will give a result that is effectively 100% certain as to whether that man is the child’s biological father. It is also possible to do a “motherless” paternity test. It is an accurate, reliable paternity test on the child and the presumed father without the mother’s DNA.
Correcting False Paternity
The opposite situation can occur when a man is claiming custody based on an ongoing relationship with the child’s mother. If the mother knows the relationship was not exclusive and has reason to be concerned that the man may not be an appropriate father to her child, she may consider a DNA paternity test, to see if it excludes the man as the child’s father.
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