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Tue 25th July 2006

Brave new world of paternity testing

Filed under: General — New Zeal @ 1:01 pm

You can now get a paternity test at 5 weeks into a pregnancy:

www.australianpaternityfraud.org

The best way to secure yourself against paternity fraud is to either get the test done or to get a written statement from the mother that she has absolutely no doubts about the paternity of the child. In other words only she knows for certain whether or not she has slept around, been raped or visited a sperm bank during the possible conception time. Those who rile at what Meredith did to Liam may find it worthwhile putting energy into getting this test made available to men free of charge. That would be a good and positive cause.

You cannot change the past. DNA testing is new technology and what we know today we didn’t know ten years ago. All historical cases of so called paternity fraud are likely to be treated with caution and probably a certain amount of clumsiness and with mixed results by the courts. Only when DNA testing is a day to day reality will the issue ever be clarified.

The Magill case failed partly because it opened up a Pandora’s box of endless possibility with regards to litigation against private deceit. The tort of deceit is supposed to apply to commercial relationships. Because a marriage certificate is a legal document it could be used to bring a tort of deceit against a man who commits adultery and this is far more frequent than misattributed paternity. That is the kind of precedent that the original decision would have set. The only winners here are the lawyers. What is needed is new legislation to apply to private matters such as paternity fraud and the latter can only apply when it is beyond doubt that paternity has been misattributed and the only surefire way of achieving that is through a DNA test. Again, championing such a cause would be a positive step to take.

The existence of the DPB means that women have the choice of keeping a child if it was not fathered by their partner and he chooses not to formally adopt the child as his own. Until all men stop committing adultery, women cannot be expected to stop having children out of wedlock (which is not likely to happen anyway).

All in all, this focus on paternity fraud and biological fatherhood is only going help to reduce birth rates further below the less than replacement level that they are now.

44 Responses to “Brave new world of paternity testing”

  1. Alun says:

    The optimum situation would be to make it mandatory and just “part of the process” this would eliminate any trust issues. It would be very hard to ask for one without raising the obvious spectre of “you dont trust me” and in the same manner of prenups it will taint the whole exercise which should be a very intimate and loving part of a robust relationship. In my opinion if you have to ask then there are already BIG issues.

  2. New Zeal says:

    Yes, well that is a good point. If the mother is unsure about paternity then she will have to admit to having slept around or something and this will have an immediate impact on the relationship. If it is mandatory, then, if she has slept round and the child turns out to be the partner and not the one night stand, then she is safe and the partner will never suspect.

    Men will never be put in such a situation because they can sleep round as much as they like and never bring anything home with them.

  3. SNMP says:

    How about making a DNA test compulsory to be able to claim Child Support in the first instance.

  4. Alun says:

    Yes, it is all about transparency. The ultimate version of such information DOES mean that men will get something to bring home. If every newborn child is paternity/DNA tested/matched then very soon a body of information will develop that will tie kids to dads (or overwhelmingly likely dads). I have NO sympathy for blokes that sow their wild oats when they are supposed to be in a monogamous relationship.

  5. New Zeal says:

    I agree with both comments.

    I don’t think DNA testing should be mandatory though. Women can overcome the spouse finding out if a confidential 5 week DNA test is available free of charge through their GP. Being free of charge means that there is no excuse for not getting one if there is doubt about paternity and it means that there is no trace in either bank account of any payments to medical costs that might reveal the truth.

  6. SNMP says:

    Well you could change it to compulsory for the custodial parent to allow a DNA test if requested by the liable parent so to receive or keep receiving child support payments. Rather than the current method of having to get a court to force a DNA test at great cost to all parties. As I would think if a custodial parent is not willing to comply with a DNA test they have something to hide and should forfit child support payment until they comply.
    I also have NO sympathy for blokes that sow their wild oats when they are supposed to be in a monogamous relationship.

  7. New Zeal says:

    I agree that all child support payments should be linked to a DNA test that confirms the child’s paternity. Men should withold such payments until that confirmation is made. There should be legal people fighting for men to have this right. That way a DNA test is more likely to be forthcoming quickly at no cost to the man.

    Men would be better served fighting in the courts for such rights than fighting in the courts to punish so called paternity fraudsters.

  8. Chrissy says:

    Just a thought, wouldn’t the father need to supply DNA for the child to be compared against? HOw you going to keep that confidential?

  9. Scrap_The_CSA says:

    Lobby group wants free paternity tests – NZPA release 08Jun05 1.00pm

    “Devastated” men are battling to prove they are not the biological fathers of children they are forced to support, says a group seeking changes to the child support system.

    James Nicolle, a spokesman for the group Parents for Children, said his organisation was dealing with four other men in the same situation as a Christchurch man who has just won a 21-year battle to be repaid child support payments for another man’s child.

    Mr Nicolle said the Inland Revenue Department would not accept the results of a paternity test unless they had written approval from a child’s mother.

    His comments come after the Ministry of Social Development agreed to pay Gordon Dowler $10,000 after a battle that dragged on since 1984, first with Social Welfare and then with Inland Revenue after the IRD took over collecting child support payments.

    Mr Dowler, 51, said he was not able to prove his case with a DNA test until 2003, when he contacted the now grown-up child and arranged the test which proved he was not the biological father.

    The mother had previously blocked his attempts to get a test, he said.

    The Inland Revenue Department promptly paid him the $8000 he was owed after the DNA test showed he was not the father, but the Ministry of Social Development held out until yesterday.

    Mr Nicolle told NZPA the men being helped by his group were devastated and saw “no way out”.

    In one case he could only talk to the man’s partner, because the man became so upset when he discussed the problem that he could not sleep.

    Parents for Children wanted a system that provided “fair and reasonable” child support, and for changes to the laws involving the way separated parents were able to parent and support their children.

    The amount taken by the IRD depended on a person’s income, with one of the men he was working with at the higher end paying $1200 a month.

    Mr Nicolle said children and parents had a right to know if a man was a child’s father.

    “If they aren’t the father an awful lot of damage can be done for both sides. It’s a terrible thing to have to face.”

    It was not just about money, with many other issues related to paternity. A person’s genetic heritage had cultural and health implications, he said.

    Parents for Children would like to see free DNA testing for any father who chose to have it done, without a child’s mother being able to act as a “gate keeper”.

    NZPA

  10. New Zeal says:

    Just a thought, wouldn’t the father need to supply DNA for the child to be compared against? HOw you going to keep that confidential?

    Chrissy, the assumption is that the woman is living with the man at the time. All she has to do is get some hair or a toenail or something and he never has to know. Piece of cake.

  11. Chrissy says:

    Would we assume he consented because he didn’t object?
    Fraud upon fraud

  12. New Zeal says:

    Yes, well that could be a sticky one.

    I don’t think it is fraud, just a medical procedure without consent.

    It would be easy to solve by having a law which enables women to use DNA material from the man they are living with to conduct a paternity test. If men are so uptight about paternity fraud then they need to provide a blanket consent on behalf of all males to ensure that all males are protected from paternity fraud.

    Because women have the certainty of maternity while men don’t then the onus is on the woman to prevent paternity fraud by having the power to test for it and then give the male(s) in her life the choice over what to do next.

  13. Chrissy says:

    Nah. It would be easier and more honest to allow men to have a paternity test if they want one.
    I would have had no objection if my ex had wanted one. nothing to hide, no chance of the child being anyone elses. luckily she was so like him when born that there was no question who the father was. (her looks have improved since)

  14. Chrissy says:

    I don’t think you could expect a woman who is unsure of the father of her child to actually volunteer to have tests so that she can inform her partner that she is having a baby to someone else. Would you expect a rapist to voluntarily supply DNA so that he could then give the result to the police if it showed he was guilty?

  15. New Zeal says:

    I don’t think you could expect a woman who is unsure of the father of her child to actually volunteer to have tests so that she can inform her partner that she is having a baby to someone else.

    I would think that having the ability to do it in confidence with the doctor would prevent the partner from ever having to know. Finding out whether or not the child is sired by the live in partner is all that matters to enable him to consent/not consent to a non-biological child.

    Look, I don’t know what the answer is. Both men and women will always sleep around. That is human nature. But I don’t think it is fair that if a woman has had more than one sexual encounter around the time of a baby’s conception she has to own up to her partner, while the male is never under such obligation to do so.

    This subject will be argued ad infinitum. I am sure that it will encourage women at least to sleep around with more care.

  16. Scrap_The_CSA says:

    The solution is to protect the fathers and childs right and have easy access paternity testing via DNA.

    The mother should be informed and free counselling available to all parties.

    Gatekeeping by the mother is not acceptable. As a child and a father have a right to know so does the mother if a test is being taken.

    It can all be done at the local GP’s and the samples sent off.

    The UK already has a system where the father pays for the test and if he is a stranger he gets the test cost refunded.

  17. julie says:

    Hi Chrissy and New Zeal,

    I think it would be a good idea to have the DNA of children and both parents on record for way more reasons than biolobical. Just think how much crime could be solved from databases like this.

    This would be the equivalent to micro-chipping. It looks as if this will be considered at some time.

    The other thing that some find out they are not the biolological parent through blood type but that is not enough proof because of the small amounts of different strands.

    I will tell you a funny story what happened to me. My youngest son was born in NZ and he had this bruise at the lower part of his back. My ex and I took him to plunket and they told us, “Don’t worry, all Maori babies have that mark.”
    Well, didn’t that flare up a problem. Neither of us are Maori. So that started to make my ex suspiscious. We got over the issue and got on with our lives but I tell you it never really went away. It also (I am ashamed to say) became a tool for me to use to hurt him many years down the track. Oh, the deviant mind of a woman. But then he had hurt me with the same tool at some stage too.

    We never had a DNA test although I had suggested many times so I suppose it still sits there, somewhere in the depths of his mind. But lucky for both of us he has a rare blood type which my youngest son also has. Phew.

  18. New Zeal says:

    You know, Julie

    All this has got me to thinking that I do not know for certain that the two children I look after are biologically mine. They both look quite different and neither really looks like me. The eldest bears a strong resemblance to my grand-mother and they both have tanned skin unlike their mother, but, hey, lots of men have melanin rich (tan) skin! The youngest looks a lot like the mother and the mother’s mother, but not like me.

    I don’t know how I would react if I was to find out that either was not my biological child. I have developed such a strong relationship with both of them that I doubt it would make much difference at this stage, but then I’ve had a lot more hands on parenting than most fathers.

    I think that in this paternity fraud argument the value of social/psychological parenting is negated. In the Liam Magill case his behaviour reflects on the poor quality of his relationship with his children that he has to elevate the biological part of it way above any human relationship he may have formed with those children during all his access visits.

  19. Chrissy says:

    Julie,
    the minute you mention databases you will get all the civil liberterians outraged.
    we already have the Guthrie blood tests put away which can be got out in extraordinary cases.
    It is an honesty/trust problem. Women need to be honest about the possibility of alternative fathers-if appropriate-I can’t see this happening. Also if the father feels the need to have his child DNA tested then he obviously doesn’t trust the mother. Either way, the relationship is not going to survive. So should the child live with ‘father unknown’ on his birth certificate or should the partner be DNA tested? It is interesting to note that there doesn’t seem to be any requirement for proof when the mother registers the baby of whether the father she writes on the form has agreed to be named.

  20. julie says:

    New Zeal,

    You won’t be the only father to wonder and for that I think DNA should be compulsory or something that doctors strongly recommend because having just a little niggle in the back of your head is something negative. And that negative can be a problem in relationships with partners and children. A good friend of mine said the same thing about one of his children. That is so sad. And he will never know for sure.

    I think many women would like for men to know 100% right from the word go also. It only makes sense because we know who the mother is easily and so we should also know who the father is. For all the right reasons, for themselves and for their children.

  21. julie says:

    Chrissy,

    It is interesting to note that there doesn’t seem to be any requirement for proof when the mother registers the baby of whether the father she writes on the form has agreed to be named.

    I didn’t know that but it is concerning.

  22. Chrissy says:

    I’m having doubts about my statement Julie. I know you don’t have to put anyone down for the father but I can’t now remember if I actually got ex to fill out the form or whether I just did it myself(after getting his permission). have been trying to find a form online but not succeeding.

  23. Wayne says:

    During my visit to Wellinton for the other…ahhheemm…matter, I had chance to talk to Judith Turner, United future MP, who is putting forth a bill regarding paternity testing. It made sense to me, but perhaps you could contact your local United Future member for more imformation and support the bill.
    Wayne
    (you know, the one with the warn out feet)

  24. starr says:

    zeal yo comment
    “Because women have the certainty of maternity while men don’t then the onus is on the woman to prevent paternity fraud by having the power to test for it”

    I’d say this is where you are making waters grey… now women have the certanity of maternity… given.
    They also have the certainity of uncertainity of paternity… through their own actions of doing the deed with another while in a relationship… they consented to do something that they should not have done in the first place.

    thing is she already has taken steps already towards paternity fraud… follow my drift.

    hence it is not fair on the husband/ partner cuckolded to be forced to take a test unless he consents nor is it fair on him to have his name on the BC’s of the child if there is a shred of doubt on the mothers part that the child may not be his. This is where morality and ethics show up in a person.. you did wromng.. admit it and take responsibility.

  25. New Zeal says:

    Starr,

    the problem is this: if the woman happens to be unfaithful during the time of possible conception, she has to own up to it to the spouse, unless she can do a DNA test in confidence. If the man does the same thing then he doesn’t. That doesn’t seem fair.

    What if the child turns out to be the live-in father’s and not the lover or rapist? Then the marriage/partnership is put under risk for no biological reason. Should all men be forced by law to admit to adultery?

    The birth certificate traditionally is not a declaration of biological parentage. Although that is inferred, technically it is not stated. Prior to DNA testing, the social family took precedence and women have for centuries been putting down the names of cuckold children on birth certificates without being challenged. Before the DPB, to admit to possible misattributed paternity causes all sorts of problems, such as being thrown out of the house with nowhere to sleep and having a ‘bastard’ child to look after. The incentive for being ‘dishonest’ about the paternity of a child has always been strong. Besides that, Christian beliefs and the sanctity of marriage ensured that the social family was more important than any biological connections.

    A hundred years ago for the father to face society with the fact that one of the children in HIS house is not his would have meant as much shame for him as for the woman. When there are children present who are definitely his progeny then divorce is out of the question. Fathers just had to cut their losses and live with it.

  26. New Zeal says:

    Hi Wayne,

    Brave walk. It’s a shame there were not more people with you when you arrived at Wgtn. I guess its a matter of getting focus on the issue.

    Thanks for that tip on United Future bill. I’ll check it out.

  27. starr says:

    Zeal
    Not sure what you meant here: “the problem is this: if the woman happens to be unfaithful during the time of possible conception, she has to own up to it to the spouse, unless she can do a DNA test in confidence. If the man does the same thing then he doesn’t. That doesn’t seem fair.”

    whats not fair.. unfaithfulness or owning up?..

    I thought the issue was paternity verification.. hence my comments in 24.
    At the very least if the woman is unsure of paternity.. she has 2 options 1. to abort- since it is still in her power or 2. fess up.

    either way with the current technology in place paternity can be detected early in a pregnancy.. so uncertanity of paternity can be verified.

    Being thrown out of the house.. well this scenario is extreme nevertheless irt does not mean it doesn’t happen. Howvere don’t you think.. prevention is better than cure should be the norm?..

  28. New Zeal says:

    What’s unfair is the owning up to unfaithfulness that a woman would need to do in order to for the male to consent to a DNA test. A male would never be required to own up to unfaithfulness.

    The issue is paternity verification, but if the child turns out to belong to the live-in father rather than the milkman, and the mother has had to ‘fess up, then that has the potential to destroy the marriage. If the child turns out to belong to someone else and that is discovered at 5 weeks then the mother can ‘fess up and then work out a solution with the live-in father about what to do, whether to abort, adopt or separate.

  29. starr says:

    zEAL
    “What’s unfair is the owning up to unfaithfulness that a woman would need to do in order to for the male to consent to a DNA test. A male would never be required to own up to unfaithfulness.”
    SSo if its unfair for a woman to own up to her wrong doing.. don’t you think if she fess’s up.. she will also end up revealing the milkmans deed with her? It would be unfair if she kept it quite.. and carried on doing the deed over and over… .. marriage wrecking.. don’t you think a marriage is already wrecked when one partner strays? don’t you think ( and using FC logic here).. if it happened once then it will happen again and again until the result ant is having to face up for the deeds?..

    If u still maintain a marriage is not over even if a partner strays.. then why is polygamy a crime in western states?..

    Why is it frowned upon?

  30. julie says:

    No Starr,

    A marriage is not over when someone has an affair but it would be totally hard for a father to look into the eyes of a child that is not his.

    Sometimes it is better not to own up to affairs. You have to consider if it can do more harm than good. Affairs can destroy other relationships.

    Affairs are not generally about a man or woman slutting around for sex. It is generally because there is something missing in the relationship and once it is talked about openly and honestly you will find there needs to be work on the relationship.

  31. New Zeal says:

    I’m no expert on affairs but there are many situations in which a child can end up not being the child of the live-in father, such as when someone starts a relationship already unknowingly pregnant to someone else. Other situations include a drunken interlude with a previous lover. Sex is just sex: a biological act.

    And, Starr, just because the mother and her partner know about the infidelity doesn’t mean that the milkman has a partner, or that she will find out about it.

  32. starr says:

    so based on comments 30 and 31 its Okay to have affairs even when married?.. wheres the “I take you to be my wedded husband/wife.. loyalty etc etc”.. gone? If so why get married in the first place .. just for show .. showing exclusivity in the “eyes of the world?” – not sure what you both are getting at here…

    If something is missing in marriage shouldn’t you either
    1. rekindle or bring it into the marriage
    or
    2. go your separate ways and then look for the missing bit?

    Why hurt the other in the process of looking for the missing bit?

  33. julie says:

    Starr,

    You are just being cheeky. I am sure you know as much as I do about affairs. But I would consider that one should never take their partner for granted just because they are married.
    Not now a days anyhow.

  34. starr says:

    hi julie
    cheeky..LOL…

    its about doing the right thing in the role you are in.. responsibility.. commitment.. integrity.. has to work both ways..

    so personally i am ignoring comments 30 and 31 because they have no relevance in the sanctity of a marriage unless we take the bit about faithfulness etc out and replace it with “you do your thing with whoever… and i do mine with whoever..”

    if not then as i said.. it is all a circus act

  35. julie says:

    Hi Starr,

    I am glad you took my comment well. I had forgotten to put LOL.

    Anyhow, the problem is that we don’t get trained to be in relationships that close. We learn to share, to consider others feelings etc from our parents but the rest is unknown and then there is also outside influences to consider.
    I wouldn’t trust my female friends and I wouldn’t expect him to trust his friends either.

    It just seems that very few people these days respect any one’s marriage.

  36. starr says:

    Hi Julie
    “It just seems that very few people these days respect any one’s marriage.”

    my personal view is its not upto others to respect someone else’s marriage but the two who are married to each other to respect it and its boundaries.

  37. julie says:

    Starr,

    my personal view is its not upto others to respect someone else’s marriage but the two who are married to each other to respect it and its boundaries.

    What planet are you living on?

    But I do agree it is up to the people in the marriage to do their best. They should give the impression their marriage is sacred and cannot be infiltrated.

  38. starr says:

    Hi Julie
    That was a response to your
    “It just seems that very few people these days respect any one’s marriage.””

    oh i live in the same planet as you but i don’t get so easily swayed by “free love” promoted by these times.. and also by the “looking for missing bit” excuse… given by many weak people who cxannot respect their marriage.

  39. julie says:

    Dear Starr,

    How can I be an expert in this. I am not in a relationship.
    But when i was married my ex had an affair and I spy with my little eye many others doing the same.

  40. julie says:

    Dear Starr,

    Twinkle twinkle little star how I wonder where you are?

    Maybe I do know alot about relationships. I will not know if not given the chance.

    In all this challenging you have given little or nothing of your story. (maybe I missed it and I apologise for that) And now I want to know. Who is this man with such values and a resident in my country while I am in his.

  41. starr says:

    Julie
    Nice.. are you flirting with me? LOL

  42. julie says:

    Hi Starr,

    Good comeback. But on a menz site? Are you joking?

    I think you are just being devious. What are you about?

  43. julie says:

    Starr,

    Actually you do give parts of your story. Anyhow, before I get myself into trouble I think I will just stick to the political agenda here.

    Catch you up on another post.

  44. tash says:

    Does anyone actually no how much it costs to get a paternity test done, if it can be done before the baby is born and if legal aid pays for it? I ask because some mothers know that they have not slept around and want our babies fathers to have relationships with their children, and if getting a paternity test done is what will encourage that relationship then I am all for it.

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