Genetic Testing in New York Child Support Cases

In a recent post, we looked at the court’s power – and, in some cases, obligation – to order a DNA test in New York paternity proceedings. New York lawmakers have passed a similar, albeit slightly different, statute establishing when a court must order a DNA test in a New York child support case.Genetic testing can be a crucial part of a child support proceeding when one party disputes paternity. While the over-the-counter DNA testing that has recently become popular to determine an individual’s ethnic heritage has come under fire for its less-than-perfect accuracy, official DNA tests can often determine results with near certainty. That isn’t to say that state-administered tests always return an answer to a paternity question; however, when an answer is returned, the methodologies are such that courts are confident basing important legal decisions on the results.

Under Article 2 section 418 of the New York Consolidated Statutes, “[t]he court, on its own motion or motion of any party, when paternity is contested, shall order the mother, the child and the alleged father to submit to” DNA testing. When the language in the statute is broken down, the following is clear:

  • A judge or support magistrate can order DNA testing on their own motion, meaning a judge does not need to wait for one of the parties to request testing;
  • When a party does request testing, the judge is not at liberty to deny the request;
  • Testing is only appropriate when paternity is at issue.

Section 418 continues to explain situations in which, although the issue of paternity may be contested, a judge or support magistrate cannot order testing. This arises when the judge makes a written determination that testing would not be in the best interest of the child. Examples include situations in which another court has already made a determination as to the child’s parentage or when the court finds that a party is equitably estopped from contesting parentage.

Equitable estoppel is a legal principle that may prevent a party from making certain arguments based on that party’s previous behavior. In this instance, the doctrine is concerned, among other things, with a child relying on what the child believes to be a parental relationship, only to later have that relationship invalidated.

Once DNA test results have been accepted by the court, they establish a rebuttable presumption of paternity. This means that, if not rebutted, paternity will be established and, presumably, support ordered as necessary. However, the party against whom the action has been filed does have the opportunity to present evidence rebutting the results of the DNA testing.

Are You Involved in a New York Child Support Dispute?

If you are currently involved in a child support dispute, or you believe that you may be in the near future, consider contacting the Law and Mediation Offices of Darren M. Shapiro. I, Darren Shapiro, have years of experience handling a wide range of New York family court matters for our clients, including New York divorce and paternity cases. To learn more, call 516-333-6555 to schedule a free consultation with me today.

More Blog Posts:

DNA Testing in New York Paternity Cases, Long Island Family Law and Mediation Blog, May 11, 2018

Under New York Family Law, Marriage May Boil Down to an “Economic Partnership”, Long Island Family Law and Mediation Blog, April 6, 2018