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DNA in defense against Colorado paternity claims

Paternity tests help to provide solid proof of the paternity of a child, generally for purposes of child support arrangements or visitation. For Colorado residents, a father has the right to establish paternity in order to protect his parental rights. A resident also has a right to fight a paternity claim if he feels he is not the father.

But what about a man who has paid child support for years and now has doubts about whether the child he's been supporting for so long was ever really his? Does he have a right to demand a DNA paternity test and perhaps recover the money he spent? That's the question the Supreme Court of another state recently decided and it ruled in favor of the man.

The New Jersey court's Oct. 10 ruling ends a divorce suit that started in 2006. In a 5-1 decision, the high court said, stating that a man can request a DNA test, apparently of the child, if the man can demonstrate that there's a reasonable possibility he isn't the father.

In this particular case, the man had come to believe that his youngest son, who is now in his 20s, was actually fathered by his sister's ex-husband. His suspicion had been bolstered by a home DNA test indicating he wasn't the father. As part of the divorce, he demanded that his ex-brother-in-law pay for 20 years worth of child support. Lower family courts denied the DNA request, deeming it not in the best interests of the son. But the state's top court, without commenting on the wisdom of the action, found that the father does have the right to have the test performed under state law.

While the New Jersey case has no direct effect on Colorado family court law, the case does serve as an example of the complexity of surrounding paternity issues. Whether it occurs at the birth of a child or years later, Colorado residents in doubt as to their paternity status can seek the help of the courts and experienced legal counsel in order to seek resolution of questions and protect their rights.

Source: NJ.com, "Court: Parents can get genetic test from state when paternity is in doubt," Salvador Rizzo, Oct.10, 2012

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