Given the popularity of “Maury” and other daytime talk shows that feature entire episodes based on paternity test results, the act of finding out whether one is, or isn't the father, has practically become a national pastime. While such shows are entertaining, it's important to realize the legal and psychological implications of not knowing your true parentage. It's also traumatizing for the man who financially supports, and becomes attached to a child that is not his. In the best interests of all the involved parties, New Jersey law allows either parent to file a paternity action with the courts under the New Jersey Parentage Act.
Once the results show over a 95% or higher probability that the man is the child's father, it would seem like a done deal considering the advances in DNA technology. It's interesting to note, however, that human beings are about 99.9% identical on a genetic level. In essence, the variations that a geneticist examines make up only about 0.01% of each person's DNA. On the other hand, the chance of two people having matching DNA profiles is about 1 in 108 trillion, according to the FBI, so that leaves virtually no room for mistaken matches. Still, even if it's extremely slight, the chance that a DNA test could be wrong does give rise to the question of whether a paternity test is truly reliable.
This matter has been brought before the courts, but as a general rule, paternity test results are accepted as “absolute”. As long as the DNA samples were obtained, handled and processed according to sound standards and practices, there is no reason to believe that the results are faulty. In addition to sub-standard practices by the testing facility, a medical anomaly could be a reason to question a paternity test result. An example of such an anomaly is the medical phenomenon known as “bipaternal twins”, in which each twin has a separate father. This is an extremely rare condition, which is why a judge may allow for a second test to ensure that the results are indeed correct. There may also be reason to question test results for children with rare, inherited diseases such as Tay-Sachs. This is a disorder typically found in people of Ashkenazi Jewish, Cajun or French Canadian ancestry, and requires that both parents carry a mutated HEXA gene in order to have an affected child. If the father can show that he is not of the aforementioned ancestries, nor does he possess a mutated HEXA gene, that may be reason to question the validity of the paternity test.
Because of the highly scientific nature and universal usage of DNA testing, disproving a paternity test is an incredibly difficult and complex legal action. An experienced family law attorney can help you determine the best course of action, including other legal options you may want to pursue. For more information on paternity tests in New Jersey, please speak with the attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C.