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In ancient times it was difficult to establish the link between a child and its parents if it was born to an unmarried woman. Family ties between such a child and its father were commonly denied so that the child did not have access to the familiar transfer of material and symbolic resources. In ancient Roman Law, the child that had no family ties with any of its parents was known as filius nullius. The child was not entitled to financial support from its father and it did not have the right to inherit from him (Machado 8).
The establishment of paternity would mean that such children acquired few legal rights. Still, a significant increase in out-of-wedlock births made society think of the social and fiscal costs of ignoring the children without family ties. Since 1968 the US Supreme Court decided a series of cases against these children discrimination: the United States v. Clark, 445 US 23 (1980), Gomez v. Perez, 409 US 535 (1973); Weber v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. 406 US 164 (1972); M and Levy v. Louisiana, 391 US 68 (1968) (Paternity Establishment). In 1973, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws approved the original Uniform Parentage Act. 19 States adopted it in full and other States adopted it in part. The UPA declared equality for parents and children without regards to the parents’ marital status (Paternity Establishment).
Throughout history, paternity was rarely proven and if it was, this was done through unreliable means. Paternity was proven at jury trials; testimonies heard concerned the parents’ relationship, the mother’s intercourse with other potential fathers, and the physical resemblance of the child to the defendant. Establishing paternity under the law was rather difficult until DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) testing was used for this purpose. Before, DNA testing was regarded as a somewhat exotic procedure associated with criminal trials only. In the course of time paternity testing by analysis of DNA has become a commodity procedure. In the present paper, we will research the most important issues related to establishing paternity and overturning child support in order to understand the current situation in American Law as far as these problems are concerned.
Test of Paternity
In the United States of America, 30% of the total births come from single mothers and the number of biological fathers is less than 15%, therefore, the number of a paternity test is constantly increasing. The main method of paternity testing is performed through is DNA testing. Annually, in the United States more than 200,000 of paternity tests are done through DNA testing or by conventional blood testing.
The testing is aimed at answering the question of who the involved parties are and who will take the responsibility of the child. “In order to distinguish the similarity of genes between individuals or to simply point out who is responsible in a lieu of criminal evidence, the techniques of Genetic Fingerprinting, DNA Testing, and DNA profiling are employed. What is used is only a sample of the DNA and utilizing any of these techniques, results are hence gathered” (Jenkins).
For this kind of testing three parties are involved, mother, child and possible father. In the testing process the identification of the mother is not necessary, as the child has come from the mother. It is unnecessary to take the mother’s sample for providing a better test result. When the expected father is dead and can not be found due to some circumstances, the identification of the paternity becomes more difficult.
HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) is another method of paternity testing. It works without resorting to DNA testing. The advantage of DNA testing is that many more variable genes, up to thirty or more, are available.
When paternity tests are conducted emotional and social issues are involved. The thing is that when a parent is identified not only the financial support is expected from him/her but social and emotional as well. When the child grows he/she becomes more and more interested in the question of who his/her father is; getting the answer to the question of parental identity is very important for the grown-up.
The Establishment of Paternity
The establishment of paternity is important for many reasons. The most significant of them are as follows:
- Support. The law requires both parents to support their child. This is also applicable when parents are not married to each other.
- Medical. Knowing who the members of the immediate family are is important when it comes for various health problems that a child has. Moreover, while treatment of the child it is important to know whether he or she has inherited any health problems.
- Citizenship. Parents provide the child with citizenship and/or nationality. In case one parent was not born in the United States, the child’s rights may be protected according to this parent’s place of origin rules.
- Benefits. Paternity establishment guarantees the child the benefits of his her parents: social security insurance benefits, inheritance rights, veteran’s and the like.
- Rights. Through paternity establishment the father gets the same rights as a father of a child in a marriage: the ability to address custody and visitation issues with the court, influences decisions regarding the child (Paternity Establishment. Frequently Asked Questions).
There exist several ways one can establish paternity:
- Acknowledgement of Paternity. This implies the voluntary process of recognition the unwed father as a biological father of a child (children). The acknowledgement is usually signed after the child is delivered. There are different laws throughout the United States but the basic principle remains the same: when the mother signs the document she confirms that she was unwed at the moment of birth and that the named man is the biological father of the child. The father, in his turn, verifies that he is the biological father of the child and that he is responsible for the child’s support until adulthood. What is important is that there are a few days after the birth of the child given before the document has to be signed. Thus, parents get a chance to test paternity of the child.
- Assumed Paternity. There are some circumstances under which paternity is presumed automatically. Mansfield Rule is one among them. It states that if a child is conceived within marriage, the husband is considered to be a father. As this presumption may not be always correct, in some states have worked out legislation to challenge or rebut this presumption.
- Default Establishment. In certain states when alleged fathers fail to attend scheduled interviews, to go for a scheduled interview or to go for a scheduled genetic test, paternity can be established by default (for instance, in Illinois).
- Judicial Establishment. This process takes place when the alleged father refuses to acknowledge paternity or when a mother refuses to acknowledge the paternity of a man who claims that he is the child’s father. Paternity is recognized legally through the court; the father becomes responsible for the monetary support of the child and gets the right to visitation (All About Paternity).
Paternity in the Federal Law
In the United States of America paternity is determined by the statute law which has been passed by the Congress. Though the paternity of the child is determined by the Congress made law, the US Congress has allowed using the local laws which are passed by the local administration bodies. By this way the Paternity is established all over the country of United States of America.
Child Support Enforcement Program
To ensure support to a newborn child whose parents deny it the Child Support Enforcement program exists in the United States of America. This program embraces legislated policies and procedures that are developed and administrated at the federal, state and local levels. It addresses the establishment of paternity and the enforcement of support orders to promote the general economic welfare and best interest of dependent children (Danda).
The Amount of Child Support
The amount of child support is determined during a court procedure. The factors that influence the amount of support are the social status of the parent, the social status of the child, the capacity of the parent to give the money, the necessity of giving that money etc. October, 1st, 1987, the Nebraska Supreme Court elaborated the new child support guidelines. The main principle the guidelines are based on is that a parent must contribute to the support of his/her child/children in proportion to his/her respective net incomes. Both parents’ net income from all sources except public assistance grants and child support payments for children of a prior marriage are considered to determine the amount of support. The net income figure excludes such items as federal and state income taxes, Social Security deductions, health insurance, union dues, mandatory retirement, and child support of children of prior marriages or paternity cases (Child Support).
Sections Regarding the Child Support Order
In section 4935 of the California Family Code, it is stated that “if a support order entitled to recognition under this chapter has not been issued, a responding tribunal of this state may issue a support order if either of the following conditions apply:
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- The individual seeking the order resides in another state.
- The support enforcement agency seeking the order is located in another state.
The tribunal may issue a temporary child support order if any of the following conditions apply:
- The respondent has signed a verified statement acknowledging parentage.
- The respondent has been determined by or pursuant to law to be the parent.
- There is other clear and convincing evidence that the respondent is the child’s parent (California Family Code 3950-3952).
Everything stated above considered we conclude that Mr. Manchez has to prove through DNA testing that he has no relation with Josie Lopes and Lucille. The policies existing in the USA make this process a rather affordable one and allowing to solve numerous problems that arise. If Mr. Manchez fails to prove that he is not a biological father of the child, he is liable to provide her with financial support; otherwise, no duties are applicable to him.
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