Who is the father ? Do you need to Find out ?
The issue of paternity has been a complex one since the earliest of times. However, whilst before it could fatherhood and fathering could not conclusively and accurately be solved, scientific progress and development in DNA have changed this. People wishing to know who fathered a child can simply resort to a paternity DNA test. But let’s take a look at how people might have done this in the past – When the paternity of a child was brought into question, just how did people approach the issue?
Paternity before DNA
Romances and affairs are intimately connected with the issue of paternity and we can safely say that these have existed since the earliest of times. There was not much someone could do to prove or disprove the paternity of a child before the advent of paternity DNA testing. Roman law was based on an assumption: mater semper certa est (meaning that the mother’s role on the conception of the child could not be disputed). The law further stated that: pater autem incertus (the father is uncertain).
The mother could often make claims as to the paternity of a child and her bona fide was taken seriously if she was considered a woman of integrity. It was really the word of the alleged father against that of the mother. Of course, people who played an influential role in society could simple pull more strings and their word was far weightier than that of the less influential party. A presumption, which is also a legal assumption existent in family law in most parts of the world, is that a child born in marriage is the biological offspring of the husband. This presumption existed in olden times as well. In the past, the resemblance between the father and the child was also quite important and people would in fact often begin talking and gossiping if they perceived a resemblance between a child and another man who was not married to the woman who bore that child. Facial resemblance was in fact, often a trigger to explore cases of paternity and a strong signal that rarely went ignored or unnoticed.
Later in history, till a few decades ago, doctors developed a system which relied on the comparison of blood groups. They could compare blood groups between the father and child to see if the child had the same blood group or a predicated blood group based upon the blood groups exhibited by the mother and alleged father. Whilst this was accurate, it technically fell short in one principle way: there could be hundreds of other fathers with the same blood group as that of the father whose paternity was in question. These random men could also be fathers to the child.
Paternity DNA testing has become an invaluable tool – there is really no other way that is as accurate or reliable. It has played a significant role in today’s world and shifted perceptions of affairs and “illegitimate offspring”; men can no longer deny their involvement in affairs which result in the conception of a child; they can no longer deny they are the fathers as a DNA test can easily determine whether they fathered that child or not. Companies such as homeDNAdirect offering high quality testing can now be found easily. On the other end of spectrum, are mothers who might falsely claim a man as the father of their child for financial gains. Anyway, these scenarios, common through history but unsolvable in the past, can today be solved with utmost certainty.
Some studies have shown that around 5% of fathers in the developed world are fathers to a child that is not actually their own – without knowing this. Nothing stops fathers who suspect they may not have biological fathered the children, from taking a DNA sample from the child in order to have a paternity test carried out. With this DNA test they may pull the family apart and the effects may have repercussions on all people in that family unit should the DNA test prove the alleged father is not the biological father. It is only in the UK where there is a law which regulates DNA sample collection (although Australia has tried to enact a similar law). This law is known as the Human Tissue Act and requires that people give consent for their sample to be collected and tested. This has indeed limited the chances of carrying out a DNA test “behind someone’s back”, at least in the UK. Under the Human Tissue Act, it is only with the mother’s sample and consent that a DNA test can be carried out. Carrying out non-consensual paternity testing can result in imprisonment. Companies offering paternity DNA testing within the UK would normally readily explain the law to people interested in the test. They would moreover, provide appropriate consent forms which authorize the laboratory to test the samples.