Saturday, March 8, 2008

Paternity Testing

Tennessee has proposed a new bill that would require mandatory paternity tests for all newborns.

OKay, on the one hand, there are a ridiculous number of children out there who are being raised by men who are unaware that their wife/girlfriend cheated on them and did not have their child, which often would indicate a desire for a divorce; also, many men are made to pay child support for children that they are not related to, nor ever made any effort to serve as a father.

Yet I believe that DNA is not important, it's intent. Once a man decides to raise a kid, he should raise that kid, regardless of the kid's actual DNA...

I don't think it should be mandatory. No way. That's a terrible invasion of privacy and automatically assumes fault on the part of the woman, plus it can give men information they don't want to have. I think it should be offered to all fathers (when the mother is not in the room) for free. They refuse it? Fine. They can never contest the paternity of the child again, because they've made that decision at that point that they don't care about DNA (and I applaud them). Even if at a later point the child is determined to be genetically unrelated, doesn't matter, they made that choice.

If they accept the test, and they are confirmed to be the father, great. If not? Well, if they immediately deny responsibility for the child, then they don't have to take it, as long as they never take on the role of father. BUt if they stay with the mother, start to raise the kid, whatever, then the paternity test will become irrelevant.

Also, once a paternity test is completed, all the DNA and records should be destroyed except for a note on the child's birth certificate. LAst thing we want is that shit on record.

Fathers should be offered one chance to know for sure, for free, with or without the mother's consent, if the child is theirs before they bond with the kid or make financial obligations towards them. One chance. That's it. And in exchange, women should get to subpoena men they believe to be the father for a confidential, free paternity test with the DNA information destroyed immediately afterwards. So women won't be left to fend for themselves, as long as they can reel off a list of all the men they slept with about 9 months earlier. Of course, you would have to require that the entire process would be completely confidential unless the man really is the father.


So in summary:

At birth, the man who thinks he is the father is offered a free paternity test. He refuses, he's the father by default, even if later he learns otherwise. He made the decision to be the father.
He accepts and it's positive, he's the father, and can never contest that.
He accepts and it's negative, he's not the father, and he can immediately sever all ties with the kid and the mom and not be held responsible. OR, he can decide to raise the kid anyway, despite that information, and will be considered the legal father even if he's not biologically related-- a relationship he then can't contest.

At any point, a mother can subpoena a guy she suspects of being a father for a paternity test. The entire process is kept discreet and if the man is not the father, he can go on his merry way and not worry about it. If he is, she can request child support from him and insist he take responsibility.

All DNA samples and anything that could be used against a person later is destroyed, as it would otherwise be self-incrimination and illegal to use it at a later point for a purpose other than it was provided for. That would be very important and have to be specifically mentioned in the law in such a way that the entire law would have to be scrapped and rewritten to get past it.

And for Pete's sake, don't make it mandatory (unless someone is attempting to skip out on the paternity checks). Make it free an readily available, sure. But not mandatory. The law should not be intruding into people's lives in that manner.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Actually, the number of children being raised by a man not their biological father (excluding of course adoption) is relatively low: reliable studies say no higher than 3% of the general population. But I'm sure many families worry!

Emilia Liz (emilia_e_murphy@yahoo.ca)

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