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Prenatal paternity tests could change child support laws

In recent months, researchers have begun testing a new paternity test that is able to determine whether a man is the father of a baby long before the baby is born, and it will likely not be long before that test becomes widely used in Atlanta and throughout the country. When that happens, laws regarding child support may need a significant overhaul in order to provide mothers with additional financial support during pregnancy.

The new prenatal paternity test is relatively non-invasive, requiring only a blood draw from the mother and a cheek swab of the potential father. The test then compares fragments of the fetus’ DNA, which are found in the mother’s blood, and compares them with the father’s DNA.

Under current Georgia family laws, a father is only required to pay child support after the baby is born, and the costs of the pregnancy and the birth are the sole responsibility of the mother. But if doctors are able to conclusively determine that a man is the father of a baby prior to birth, the law may be changed so that men are required to pay support to the mother during her pregnancy.

Some will probably resist this change, arguing that child support is meant to support the child (hence the name) and not the mother. But requiring a father to help with medical and other pregnancy-related costs could help ensure a safe pregnancy and delivery and a healthy baby.

What do you think? Should a father be ordered to pay child support prior to the birth of his child?

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette, “Kalamazoo lab first in West Michigan to conduct new prenatal paternity test,” Yvonne Zipp, Dec. 4, 2012