Mandatory DNA Testing
As a member of the board of directors of the national organization Fathers & Families, Robert Franklin is an active father’s rights advocate.
Franklin is pushing for mandatory DNA testing at all births to help combat paternity fraud. Using data from the Bureau of Vital Statistics and some assumptions, he estimates in the United States alone between 280,000 to 410,000 children are born to men who think they are the father but are not.
“In every case of paternity fraud, there are two men being defrauded,” Franklin said.
He talked with the Men’s Rights site about paternity fraud and solutions to this growing problem.
Men’s Rights: Give us an example of paternity fraud?
Robert Franklin: Paternity fraud occurs when a woman bears a child but misrepresents to a man who the father actually is. In every case of paternity fraud, she tells one man he is the dad when he’s not. Usually what that means is she doesn’t tell the true father that he is the actual father. So what that means is in every case of paternity fraud there are two men being defrauded.
Men’s Rights: I’d imagine when it does come out often you have a wide spectrum of behaviors by the father who has been defrauded. A lot of anxiety, the father possibly wanting the leave the wife and the child, the father swallowing his anxiety and continuing to raise the child for the benefit of the child. What we’re talking about here is empowering these men to make the decision before things have gone along too far and then decide what their level of responsibility should be for a child that is not theirs.
Now are there any laws that provide a solution for a man who finds out that the child he has been raising is not his?
Robert Franklin: Very few. A couple of states, including Georgia, allow DNA testing at any time. So a husband could demand mandatory DNA testing under Georgia law at any time to determine whether he is the biological father. And if he is not, he is allowed to basically make a choice if he wants to continue playing the paternal role or not.
Also, if it is a post-divorce case and he has a child support order then he can choose to opt out of that support. If he opts out that also eliminates his parental obligations and his parental rights.
Let me make clear that every state is different and Georgia is as far as I know unique. What men need to understand is they need to find out what the law is in their state. Whatever state you’re in, you need to contact a family law attorney licensed in your state to find out what the law is.
Another point is you can do DNA testing on your own. You can do it in secret and have it remain confidential.
You can go to any reputable pharmacy and get a kit or find one online and send those cheek swabs off to a testing laboratory. They will send you back the results of the test that will tell you whether you are the biological father or not.
However, those tests are not admissible in court, but they will tell you to a virtual certainty. I would encourage people to do that because once you get a private test and it tells you that you are not the father, then you can go to court and get a court-ordered test that will be admissible as evidence.
Men’s Rights: So if you have any doubt or you are heading toward a divorce this would be a good idea and not a very costly one, right?
Robert Franklin: Right. Knowledge is a good thing. If you find out you are the father then fine you have nothing else to do. I would encourage people to do this even if they feel very certain of their paternity. Let me tell you, almost every dad I have ever talked to felt certain they were the father.
If I could leave your readers with one thought it would be your paternity is in your hands. You can do DNA testing yourself and confidentially anytime you want to. That will give you valuable information with which to decide your own paternal rights and responsibilities.
You don’t need to wait for the court, you don’t need to wait for the woman to tell you the truth. You can find out the information yourself, and I urge you to do that.
The divorce lawyers for men at Cordell & Cordell handle many domestic litigation issues, including paternity. Contact the Cordell and Cordell office nearest you or learn more information about paternity laws on DadsDivorce.com.