Does DNA Make You a Dad?

One could argue that there are a number of things that make a person a father, and DNA is one of them. The law assumes that the man who is married to or living with the mother of a child at the time of conception is the child's father. In certain cases, a presumed father (or the mother) may question the biological paternity. Under certain conditions, a presumed father can seek a court order either to establish that he is the father or establish that he is not the father by way of DNA testing.

What is DNA testing?

DNA -- or deoxyribonucleic acid - contains the genetic information that makes up the cells in the human body. Everyone's DNA is unique, though people who are related share certain markers on their DNA. By examining and comparing DNA samples - either from drawn blood or cheek swab - it can be accurately determined whether or not two people could be blood relatives.

How do I go about getting tested?

If you are granted permission from the court to either prove or disprove your paternity, a local laboratory can do the DNA test. Samples are gathered from you, the child and the mother of the child. The test is not painful or invasive, and the results arrive in about two weeks. The law does not require you to be present during that time.

What do the results mean?

Paternity is a complex issue. If you have been a present and consistent parent in the life of a child and you are proven not to be the child's biological father, you might be relieved of all parental responsibilities, financial and otherwise. If you have no relationship with a child and you are proven to be the father, you might become responsible for supporting the child financially until the age of 18.

There are cases in which a man has petitioned the court to disprove paternity and has been turned down. Depending on the age of the child and the family circumstances, it is possible for a court to rule that a change in paternity would not be in the child's best interest and so is not allowed by law.

If you have questions regarding paternity and DNA testing, contact a family law attorney in the Bloomfield Hills offices of Michael A. Robbins.