November 27, 2009

Does DNA Testing Change the Concepts of Fatherhood?

Posted in Child Support, Custody tagged , at 5:56 pm by demetriagraves

Many courts across the country are having to sort through the many complex issues that arise when DNA testing reveals that Daddy is not really my Daddy. Particularly in cases where a man thought he was the biological father and has been paying child support for many years and then DNA testing reveals that he isn’t actually the father biologically but because his name is on the birth certificate, he is the father legally.

This is especially difficult when the mother now moves in with the biological father and they raise ‘their’ child together. Should the legal non-biological father still be expected to continue child support, even though the child is not really ‘his’? In many cases, the legal father is obliged to continue to pay child support, especially if he wants to continue to have visitation rights etc. Though this begs the question of how much responsibility does the biological father have for this child that he has had nothing to do with for many years? In the scenario above, it seems that the biological father is having more the benefits of fatherhood with out any of the financial burdens or obligations. So how much should, the legal father be expected to support the parents of a child that is not biologically ‘his’. There is no legal precedent for recognizing two fathers of a child.

There have even been cases, where these legal non-biological fathers have won full custody of the child that they raised and thought of as their own since they were born. Legally, this is not too dissimilar to an adoption.

As DNA testing becomes more readily available, less expensive and more accurate it seems like there will be even more complex cases of this nature that the courts will have to entangle. How important is this biological factor really when you consider all of the successful adoptive parents? Does one man have more rights to a child that he has never raised because he is the biological father? And where does that leave the man who thought he was Daddy and wants to continue his relationship with that child. Should he be forced to continue child support payments even when the biological father is now on the scene?

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