New Laws Clarify Paternity and Embrace DNA Testing
Last month, just before the holidays, Governor Rick Snyder signed several tie-barred bills into law dealing with paternity and the rules establishing paternity in the county family courts of Michigan. The statute, officially known as the Genetic Parentage Act, adopts DNA testing and streamlines the procedure for establishing paternity in the family court.
According to the new act, the biological father of a child born out of wedlock is established by proving the following:
- The alleged father or mother is receiving services from a Title IV-D agency such as a county Friend of the Court or a county prosecutor;
- The mother, child, and alleged father submitted to blood or tissue typing determinations that may include, determinations of red cell antigens, red cell isoenzymes, human leukocyte antigens, serum proteins, or DNA identification profiling, to determine whether the alleged father is likely to be, or is not, the father of the child;
- A blood or tissue typing or DNA identification profiling was conducted by a person accredited for paternity determinations by a nationally recognized scientific organization, including but not limited to, the American association of Blood Banks and approved by the Department of Human Services;
- The probability of paternity determined by the qualified person or agency conducting the blood or tissue typing or DNA identification profiling is 99% or higher;
- The mother and the alleged father sign a form created by the Department of Human Services agreeing to submit to the test.
Genetic testing conducted in compliance with this Act conclusively establishes the identity of the biological father opening the door for a child support obligation, a court-ordered parenting schedule, and a custody determination. When a mother and father submit to genetic tests for the purpose of a paternity determination they consent to the jurisdiction of the family court.
This statute represents progress to the extent that it adopts available technology to make factual determinations that are based on science. Finally, the law is catching up with technology in the family court.