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Bill would require DNA testing of parents, child following delivery

You can't really call it a trend, but a New Jersey bill just introduced into that state's legislature and calling for mandatory genetic testing of parents and newborns follows similar legislation from Kansas last year that is still pending in that state's legislature.

Authors of the similar bills in both states have a common motivation, namely, creating a record immediately upon a child's birth that will forestall forever questions of paternity and help avoid sticky issues down the road concerning child support.

Although the New Jersey bill applies in the same fashion toward both moms and dads, it is understood by many to be primarily fathers' rights legislation. Its author, Assemblyman Gilbert Wilson, references "fathers who are raising children and paying support for a child and come to find out years later that it wasn't their child."

Wilson calls that scenario "a devastating thing to find out."

The would-be law would require that the DNA testing be carried out by whoever delivers a baby, at the expense of the parents or insurers. Its draft language would enable a man who turns out not to be a child's father to demand reimbursement for expenses incurred in raising the child.

Advocates call it "a good attempt" at clarifying state law they say is too unsettled and in reining in judges they say "have too much discretion" in family law issues. The ACLU New Jersey branch director responds that she sees little chance for the bill to become law.

As for Wilson, he says he is completely open to comments and to amending the language, and that the bill is simply about clarity.

"The big picture is what it can save, what it can prevent as far as destroying families because the truth was not known," he says.

In Florida, a paternity matter can run the gamut from simple to markedly complex, and can involve issues encompassing visitation, custody and child support. An experienced family law attorney can answer questions.

Source: "N.J. legislator proposes bill requiring genetic testing for all newborns, parents to verify paternity," Matt Friedman, March 1, 2012

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