Everyone knows that the issue of fatherhood is important. It matters emotionally for sure, where a child comes from, who his or her family is. It also matters financially and legally. The legal father of a child is entitled to certain benefits and also has certain rights and obligations. Fathers must financially provide for their offspring and paternity is critically important to issues of child support.
Given the importance of paternity, it is essential that the issue be decided as quickly as possible. Until just recently, involved parties had to wait until after a child was born to get the answer to the important question of “Who’s the daddy?” Thanks to ARCPoint Labs, a South Carolina technology company, a new test was developed so that the uncertainty can be dispensed with months earlier.
The test is not only new, but it’s especially scientifically important because it is noninvasive. In fact, ARCPoint Labs says that it is the very first noninvasive prenatal DNA test to ever be widely available to the public. Prior to the development of the new test, the only other option to determine a child’s DNA was through the use of an amniocentesis. The problem with this procedure was the danger posed to the mother and child given that an amniocentesis is done by inserting a needle into a woman’s amniotic sac. Given the risk of miscarriage, an amniocentesis would not be done for a simple DNA determination.
The new test by ARCPoint works by simply taking a vial of a pregnant woman’s blood. The blood is then screened for tiny fragments of a fetus’ DNA and then compared to DNA that has been taken from the potential father with a cheek swab. The scientific leap allows paternity to be definitively determined as early as the first trimester.
While this is all great news for those looking for quick answers about paternity, the development is also potentially legally significant. Because paternity can be determined so much sooner, fathers may now be required to step in and pay to support their offspring months earlier than is typical.
Currently, most states say that child support is required to begin once a child has been born. That means that costs associated with pregnancy are seen as the sole responsibility of the mother. If the new ARCPoint test becomes widely accepted, then the burden of pregnancy expenses could be shifted towards the father. It’s possible that in the future legislatures might change laws to go after fathers much sooner in a child’s life than is currently accepted, maybe even before the child is born.
If you find yourself facing the prospect of complicated divorce and have questions about your rights and options, contact an experienced Ohio family law attorney who can help guide you through the difficult process. Count on the expertise of Twinsburg family law attorney Carol L. Stephan.
Source: “New blood test can determine paternity before birth,” published at MichiganRadio.org.
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