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Out-of-state case shows importance of DNA testing

It’s not a common practice for people here in California to pay attention to court decisions made on the other side of the country. That’s because some people know that each state is allowed to make its own laws and that courts within each state’s jurisdiction have the right to use their discretion when applying these laws. Unless we’re dealing with a U.S. Supreme Court decision, the chances of an East Coast court decision affecting a court decision here on the West Coast is rather slim.

But this does not mean we can’t look at court decisions from other states. In fact, some court cases on the other side of the country may deal with legal issues that could easily crop up here in our state. But just like the courts in other states, California judges would need to look at the facts of the case and the application of our law in order to make a just decision.

Take for example a case out of New Jersey where a woman looked to the court to help establish a child support obligation for a man she claimed to be the father of her twin daughters. Some of our San Francisco readers might be surprised to learn that the court only ordered the man to pay support for one of the girls. But since they were twins, you might be asking, “How can this be?”

The reason the court ruled in this manner was because paternity tests showed that the man was only the father of one of the girls. The court explained that this could happen if a woman had intercourse with two men within a short period of time, allowing two eggs to become fertilized individually by each man. After hearing testimony from the woman, it was determined that this likely happened.

What this case shows our readers here in California is the importance of establishing paternity through DNA testing in both child custody and support cases. Without this crucial test, a person may be ordered to pay support for a child that isn’t theirs or denied custody of a child that is. Although this case might present a challenge to our courts, readers of today’s post can rest assured that our state laws do offer guidance on how a judge should address a legal issue such as this and what decision should be handed down.

Source: NBC New York, “Twins Have Different Fathers, New Jersey Judge Finds in Paternity Case,” May 8, 2015