County Gets Deference in Paternity Test Dispute

     (CN) – A California man does not have the right to choose the laboratory for a paternity test, a state appeals court ruled.
     Ardella M. was receiving public assistance from San Diego County on behalf of her child, E.M., and the county filed a complaint against Michel M. to establish paternity and collect child support. (Courthouse News abbreviated the last names of the parties to protect the privacy of the child.)
     Denying that he was the father, Michel asked to take a paternity test at Genetic Profiles Corp., a private DNA lab in San Diego, rather than at the county’s contracted lab.
     He stated that he had the right to control who would handle his DNA sample. The trial court ruled against Michel, however, agreeing with the county that the law required the use of its lab to ensure the proper chain of custody.
     Michel refused to take the test, so the court ruled that he was the father and must pay $300 in child support while contributing to the child’s health care costs.
     Michel appealed, but the San Diego-based Fourth Appellate District court also ruled in the county’s favor, stating that the law already protects Michel’s privacy interest.
     “Because there is no evidence in the record to suggest the county-contracted laboratory or any other laboratory has engaged or is likely to engage in inappropriate sharing of DNA information, we give no weight to any allegation that a laboratory will abuse Mason’s DNA just because it contracts with the government, takes the sample in a government building or any other arbitrary reason,” Justice Richard Huffman wrote for a three-member panel.

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