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Brave new world of paternity testing

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

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.