The Law Against Someone Tampering With a Paternity Test

By Ciele Edwards

While there is little doubt to the maternal lineage of a child, the child's paternity isn't always readily apparent. If any doubt exists regarding who fathered a child, a paternity test, which is considered 99.9 percent accurate, puts that doubt to rest. Tampering with the test could drastically alter the course of an entire family's lives and have considerable legal consequences.

How It Works

Half a person's DNA comes from his mother and half from his father. During a paternity test, lab technicians extract DNA from a blood or saliva sample given by the child and the alleged father. The lab compares the genetic markers in both samples to determine if the alleged father is, in fact, the biological father. An individual can schedule a paternity test at any time with a private lab or even purchase a paternity testing kit to use at home. State courts, however, will only acknowledge tests performed under the court's supervision. This makes tampering with a paternity test extremely difficult.

Paternity Test

Tampering with a paternity test or its results constitutes paternity fraud. Paternity fraud generally occurs when a woman knowingly accuses a man of fathering a child he did not father. Paternity fraud, however, encompasses more than just unfounded accusations. It also includes attempts to dispel or assert paternity by tampering with a paternity test. Because court-supervised tests are the only paternity tests that are admissible in court, tampering with a paternity test is difficult, if not impossible, for most individuals. For example, switching out one test swab for another would constitute tampering, but unless the individual in question has access to the lab performing the test, doing so would not be possible.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Legal Consequences

State laws vary regarding the legal consequences associated with paternity fraud. In Pennsylvania, for example, in 2008, a man was convicted on seven criminal counts relating to paternity fraud including solicitation to tamper with, or falsify, public information intended for public record, and obstruction of the administration of Pennsylvania law for convincing a friend to impersonate him at the testing center. After exhausting his appeals, he was sentenced to a maximum of 23 months in jail.

Considerations

Not all cases involving inaccurate test results are the result of tampering. Although the test itself is highly accurate, human error is always a factor. Just like tampering, a mistake can result in an individual paying child support for a child that isn't his or exonerate a child's biological father from his legal responsibilities. If a man believes a lab error caused a positive case result, he can request a second court-supervised paternity test.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
How Does a Father Get Custody When the Mother Denies Paternity?

References

Resources

Related articles

The Custody of Kids When Not Married in Mississippi

In most states, when an unmarried woman gives birth, she automatically and legally has sole custody of her child. Mississippi is no exception. When a married woman has a child, the state presumes that her husband is the father. In legal terms, “presumes” means that it is true until proved otherwise to a court's satisfaction. If the woman is not married, her child has no presumed father. Her child’s biological father therefore has no rights unless he takes steps to correct the situation.

Laws on False Paternity

DNA testing is increasingly common and accurate, increasing many people's awareness that the purported father of a child is not always the child's biological father. Legal paternity is the recognition by the government that a man is a child's father. False paternity occurs when a man is inaccurately represented as the child's father, which may be due to an inadvertent error or deliberate misrepresentation. Paternity laws are similar in each state, but each state has minor variations, so consult local laws before pursuing a paternity action.

South Carolina Child Support Laws

Like other states, South Carolina has laws that direct how child support is established and enforced when parents split up, including how paternity is established. As long as the custodial parent lives in South Carolina, South Carolina’s laws and helping agencies can be used, even if the noncustodial parent lives in another state. Many of South Carolina’s child support laws and procedures are similar to those of other states.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Tennessee Law for Granting Custody to People Who Are Not Married

Tennessee child custody statutes overwhelmingly support the mother in cases where the parents of a child are not ...

How to Change the Father's Name on a Birth Certificate in Missouri

If you are the biological father of a child but are not named on the child's birth certificate, you face significant ...

Child Custody Visitation Rights in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania passed legislation that overhauled the state's existing child custody laws in 2011. The new laws addressed ...

Dad's Rights to Sole Custody

Fathers had few rights in custody battles in the 20th century. That changed somewhat in the millennium. However, the ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED