Genetic Paternity Determinations for Georgia Parents

When children are involved the end of a relationship carries with it some special concerns for Georgia couples. Both parents are responsible for the welfare of the children, and often the parent who is not the primary caregiver is ordered by a court to pay child support. In Georgia, the state Department of Human Services maintains a Division of Child Support Services that includes paternity determination services for families where legal fatherhood, and the accompanying responsibility for child support, needs to be established.

With more couples now having children without being married, the need for determining legal paternity has grown across the nation, and more people are turning to DNA testing to determine other relationships as well. The American Association of Blood Banks, which provides accreditation for facilities that test for family relationships, recorded at least 382,199 tests in 2010. Some testing laboratories do not provide their data to the AABB, and the director of one testing facility estimates that in the United States about half a million family relationship tests a year are now being conducted.

National news recently carried a story about mobile paternity testing vans that bring testing into the community in places like New York City, where clients can provide a blood sample in the mobile lab and receive results within a few days.

The stories of mobile lab customers include unhappy results when men discover that a child they love is not theirs biologically, along with reunions for adult siblings just discovering one another. Clients who want to use a mobile lab to establish paternity for child support purposes should look into whether the lab is reliable. The law does not provide protection for consumers, as it is not illegal to do DNA testing without AABB accreditation. Some mobile labs will not do DNA testing without a doctor's prescription. Insurance does not generally cover this genetic testing.

The Georgia DCSS offers paternity establishment services with no charge except for an application fee and a fee for genetic blood testing, which it conducts. The genetic testing fee is $29.65 a person, amounting to a reasonable $88.95 for testing the child, mother and father.

It is possible to get a court order through the process of a divorce, separation or other proceeding, to compel a father to be tested and involve the DCSS in protecting the welfare of a child by establishing paternity. The DCSS also enforces child support orders.

An experienced family law attorney can help parents who need to establish child support navigate the court system. Having an advocate through the process is reassuring and will help see to it that the child's best interests are taken into account.