In Minnesota, unmarried parents are required to support their children just as much as married parents, but there can be complications if the identity of the father is not clear. And just as a mother cannot secure child support if the identity of the father is not known, a man cannot claim child custody or visitation rights without proving that he is the biological father. An increasing number of people in St. Paul may be facing these issues as about half of the children who are born to mothers under 30 in the U.S. are born out of wedlock.
New paternity tests may make these issues easier for pregnant women and potential fathers to handle. Non-invasive blood tests can now determine paternity as early as the ninth week of pregnancy. Paternity tests were previously available during pregnancy, but they were invasive and carried a risk of inducing a miscarriage.
The tests will not only relieve anxiety and offer answers to expecting parents, but if they become certified for accuracy, they could change the landscape of child support law.
Currently, child support cannot be collected until after a baby is born. The mother is legally responsible for the costs associated with pregnancy on her own. But, if paternity could be established, state laws could potentially be changed to hold the biological father responsible for those costs as well.
The tests must be approved by the American Association of Blood Banks before the results can be admissible in family law court.
Non-invasive prenatal paternity tests have been available over the Internet for some time, but they have been notoriously inaccurate.
The new tests appear to have much more promise to provide reliable results, according to the New York Times.
Source: New York Times, "Before Birth, Dad's ID," Andrew Pollack, June 19, 2012