Genetic testing websites have experienced a meteoric rise. More than 26 million people shared their DNA with genetic testing firms like 23andMe and Ancestry. These businesses allow users to glean valuable insights into their family history and heritage.
Genetic tests are also impacting family law cases around the globe. Many attorneys use genetic testing data to settle divorces, custody agreements, and paternity suits. Can lawyers use data from genetic tests in North Carolina cases? Here's what you need to know.
What Is Genetic Testing?
Genetic testing is the process of looking for information about a person's genes and chromosomes. Tests are usually noninvasive and require analysis of blood, saliva, or hair. Genetic tests look for DNA mutations to identify things like a predisposition to diseases. Popular companies like 23andMe also use these tests to help people discover their ancestry and family tree.
Impact on Family Law
Although many people use DNA to learn about their heritage, some people's tests yield surprising results. Some users discovered that they were donor-conceived after taking genetic tests from 23andMe.
Another man's 23andMe kit revealed that he had a half-brother. The test results proved that his father had an affair before he was married and ultimately led to a divorce.
Genetic tests can identify paternity and maternity. Since these tests are highly accurate, many attorneys are using test results to help them resolve their cases. Lawyers can use genetic tests to establish paternity, prove an extramarital affair, and create evidence for divorces.
How Genetic Tests Impact North Carolina Cases
North Carolina law states that a person can bring a paternity action to court prior to a child's eighteenth birthday. A party can request genetic testing to establish paternity. They can also establish paternity to order child support and create custody arrangements.
Genetic testing firms allow outside parties to access test results upon request. 23andMe's law enforcement guide states that they will only review inquiries related to a valid trial, grand jury, administrative subpoena, warrant, or order.
Using a Family Law Attorney
If you are concerned someone is using a genetic test against you, you should consult an attorney right away. They can explain your rights and help you defend against allegations. You can also use an attorney to bring forth a genetic test against someone else. A lawyer can request genetic test results from the court to help resolve your divorce or paternity dispute.
The attorneys at Caulder & Valentine are here for you. Our experienced attorneys have resolved many family law cases in Gastonia and Shelby. Contact our office today at (704) 470-2440 to schedule a consultation.