On January 1, 2016, the new Parentage Act of 1984 as amended in 2015 was enacted. Here are a few highlights of the main points to remember:
a. Gender neutrality – the legislation has now ensured that a parent-child relationship could be established by both a woman and child and a man and child. As such, there is a presumption of parentage in the following situations:
1. Child born during marriage or civil union
2. Child born within 300 days of end of marriage or civil union
3. Child born during marriage or civil union, but marriage or civil union could be declared invalid.
4. After child’s birth, the couple enters into invalid marriage or civil union and the person that mother married consented to be named as a parent on child’s birth certificate.
All four of the above presumptions can be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence.
b. Consideration of best interests of the child before ordering genetic testing. The new law allows a judge to deny a DNA test if it finds that such an order would not be in the best interests of the child and would in fact be harmful to the child. Such a fact pattern would arise when the child presumably has a parent and it would not be in her best interests to find out that her presumed father is not her biological father.
c. Ordering genetic testing of family members of the man. A judge can now order a male family member of a presumed parent to undergo DNA testing to presumably determine if the either missing or unavailable parent is in fact the biological father. The DNA would have to come from a male family member as he would carry the same chromosome as the father.
d. Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity continue to only be used for opposite-sex couples. As such, absent a marriage or civil union, an unmarried same-sex couples would still need to go to court to adjudicate parentage of the non-biological child.