Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers | January 25, 2024 | Paternity
Trial lawyers of all practice areas who deal with DNA tests and DNA results are familiar with the “CSI Effect.” In short, the CSI Effect describes the tendency of lay individuals to believe that DNA testing is widely available, can be conducted quickly, and provides irrefutable evidence of someone’s identity.
The consequences of this faulty belief in the accuracy of DNA testing can be especially harmful in paternity proceedings. A false positive that declares you are the father of a child can lead a court to order you to pay child support and other expenses for the child. Moreover, you could be saddled with the responsibility of raising a child who is not yours.
How Often Are DNA Tests Wrong?
A recent YouGov survey found that over half of Americans believe DNA test results are somewhat accurate, and another 31 percent claim such results are very accurate. All told, over eight out of ten Americans have at least some confidence in the result of a DNA test. Fewer than two out of every ten Americans have little to no confidence in DNA test results.
Individuals who place a great deal of faith in DNA tests may point to studies suggesting that the chance of a DNA test being inaccurate is very low, even less than one percent. However, this assumes a DNA test is conducted under ideal circumstances with no errors.
There are several mistakes that can be made during the process, including:
- Contamination of a sample during the collection process
- Mislabeling of a sample taken
- A sample being contaminated during shipping or storage
- Cross-contamination of samples caused by poor laboratory testing practices
- Malfunctioning testing equipment
An over-reliance on DNA testing results and the people who operate the testing equipment can easily lead a court to ignore other evidence that calls those results into question.
Proving That Your DNA Test Is Wrong
Suppose the court orders a DNA test in your divorce or paternity case, and you are surprised by the result. Either the test shows you are not the father of your child when you believe you are, or it shows that you are the father when you have reasons to suspect otherwise. In either case, it is wise to take prompt action.
Notify the court that you disagree with the DNA test results and would like a second test conducted. Be prepared to share your reasons for disputing the original test results, as simply saying you have a gut feeling they are wrong is not likely to be enough. You should also be prepared to pay for the second DNA test yourself.
You can also request testing records from the laboratory that conducted the DNA test to show that such results should not be relied upon. Such records could show that the laboratory’s practices were not followed or there is uncertainty about the samples’ purity. This could lead the court to order a new round of DNA testing.
Legal Rights Against a DNA Testing Firm
If the court relies on the DNA test results and those results are later proven false, you may have legal rights against the laboratory.
If the employees involved in collecting, shipping, storing, or testing the samples made a careless or reckless mistake, they could be liable to you for damages. This could include compensation for any child support you have had to pay, emotional trauma and distress, and other injuries you suffer as a result of the situation.
The Benefit of Legal Help in a Family Law Case Involving DNA Tests
Having an experienced family law attorney help you in all cases involving DNA test results is advisable. Your attorney can help you take effective action to challenge suspect DNA results. An attorney can also help you bring legal action against a negligent laboratory and its employees if your DNA test is wrong.
Contact the Bergen County Family and Divorce Law Firm of Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers for more help
Contact the experienced family attorneys at Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers today for legal assistance. Visit our law office in Bergen County or give us a call at (201) 487-1199 to schedule a free consultation with our team.