Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In a Proceeding to Disestablish Paternity, DNA Testing Is Not Permissible Unless It Is in the Child’s Best Interest

A new decision from Division II, Parentage of Sec, docket no. 38883-9, held that a court must determine that DNA testing is in the child’s best interest before ordering the testing.
The case pitted a presumptive father against a putative biological father. Washington law presumes that a man is a child’s father if the parents were married when the child was born. It also permits a proceeding to disprove a presumptive relationship if: a) the presumed father and the mother neither cohabitated nor engaged in sexual intercourse with each other during the probable time of conception, and b) the presumed father never openly treated the child as his own.
This provision also authorizes a court to require genetic testing, if such testing would be in the child’s best interest.
Here, the putative biological father filed a motion to disestablish the presumptive relationship. In the course of that proceeding, the court ordered the parties to submit to genetic testing. The child and the presumptive father did not comply with the order.
On appeal, the court held the order invalid, because it was issued without the requisite hearing to determine whether such testing was in the child’s best interest.

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