The things DNA can tell us

‘Your father’s not your father’: when DNA tests reveal more than you bargained for

It does, for obvious reasons, tend to be fathers too.

Sure, intellectually we’ve known that there’s a lot of it about. But society has rather blind eyed it – certainly the law on such things as maintenance etc has. Especially the American system in places.

The thing is, now that we’ve this proof ability, is that legal system going to change? Logically it should of course but will logic make it through he accumulated special interests?

22 thoughts on “The things DNA can tell us”

  1. We had this come up occasionally in a clinical study I was involved in, where we looked at particular genes in whole families. The study nurse was adept at explaining the results in a way that, among the hard of learning*, were unlikely to cause family breakdowns.

    *: in this case this covers most people. People think genetics is complicated (fundamentally it is simple), and older people think it is the work of the devil, so they turn their brains off.

  2. The only fair and sensible solution for all concerned* is for the mother to choose the richest male she can point her finger at.

    * ‘all concerned’ excluding the male adults, of course.

  3. Sure, intellectually we’ve known that there’s a lot of it about.

    “Steve – He’s got your eyes”
    “Yeah, but not my DNA, which is why we’re getting divorced”

  4. “The study nurse was adept at explaining the results in a way that, among the hard of learning*, were unlikely to cause family breakdowns.”

    And screw some poor bloke into paying for a child that isn’t his, while hiding the woman’s infidelity, and shielding her from the consequences of her actions.

    I keep wondering when the advantages of this so-called Patriarchy will kick in, but I’m not seeing many so far.

  5. “intellectually we’ve known that there’s a lot of it about.”

    Yet every time you put an estimate on the frequency your readers have to tell you that you are wildly overestimating.

    I assume your numbers come from your intuitive understanding of your background. If the fleet’s away, mummy will play. (Not your mummy, of course; I refer to mummykind.)

  6. Jim, not really. At least 50% of the population is congenitally incapable of understanding the results given, let alone the implications for infidelity of the rather specific testing we did. We weren’t doing paternity testing, but looking at certain genes and their inheritance pattern. Very occasionally a result would crop up that was not reconcilable with the paternity claimed. You cannot, under those circumstances, do anything but give people the results they are entitled to (which may or may not include partners other members of their family), and work it out if they are able. Besides, looking at a single gene there is always the possibility of a spontaneous mutation… can’t be ruled out …

    So you would still need formal paternity testing in the event any alleged father wished to challenge it.

    Beyond the people who would never have worked it out anyway, will be quite a cohort of men who would not want to destroy their families (including legitimate children). They are in a bind as they still lose custody, contact, house, pussy, and maintenance, even for the wife’s infidelity. If they can “turn their brains off” on this one thing (as people do with religion and such like all the fricking time), that’s their free choice.

  7. I recall a case were a guy discovered the kid wasn’t his, divorced her and ended up paying child support while the ex shacked up with the actual father.

  8. Fairly typical example of the problem.

    http://archive.li/4JbB1

    In France, DNA testing is illegal without a judicial order (Article 226-28 of the French Penal Code) under threat of penalty of €15,000.

    In other jurisdictions “secret paternity testing” (i.e. without the formal consent of both “parents”), however I’m guessing that if the wife has been having an affair she probably knows (or at least suspects) that the child isn’t hubby’s and would make up some bullsh*t justification for not granting consent.

    As for the actual numbers, research is patchy, but anywhere from 2% (where all children are testing anonymously without parental consent) to 20% where testing was requested and could not be blocked by the mother.

    There’s inherent bias in the higher number though, since if you’re a husband / partner requesting testing then you probably already suspect that the kid ain’t yours in the first place…

  9. “Beyond the people who would never have worked it out anyway, will be quite a cohort of men who would not want to destroy their families (including legitimate children). They are in a bind as they still lose custody, contact, house, pussy, and maintenance, even for the wife’s infidelity. If they can “turn their brains off” on this one thing (as people do with religion and such like all the fricking time), that’s their free choice.”

    Jesus, you’re pretty patronising aren’t you? The proles are too stupid to understand what clever sciency stuff I do.

    A) You’d have to be pretty dim to not understand ‘There’s a decent chance you’re not little Kevin’s real Dad, we can’t be 100% sure though, if you want to know for sure you’ll have to have a proper paternity test’, and

    B) If there are men who would be happy (probably not the right word) to let sleeping (around) wives lie in order to maintain the status quo, there equally are plenty who wouldn’t, and all you’re doing by not telling the men is protecting all the women while screwing over some of the men.

  10. If there are men who would be happy (probably not the right word) to let sleeping (around) wives lie in order to maintain the status quo, there equally are plenty who wouldn’t, and all you’re doing by not telling the men is protecting all the women while screwing over some of the men.

    …plus the fact that being cheated on by your wife is one thing, but being cuckolded and forced (through deceit) into raising another man’s cuckoo’s is another matter entirely, one in which violence and bloodshed to the point of murder is not out of the question.

    Sure, it might be fashionable to whore it around nowadays, but actions have consequences…

  11. We were not doing paternity testing. Sure if a kid turns up with a known defect and neither parent carries it chances are dad isn’t dad.

    But – to the extent family members even get given each other’s results (data protection etc) it’s up to them what they do with the data. We would have been closed down and made headlines if we had gone around breaking up families.

    It’s nothing to do with being patronising. The ethical environment at the time (it is if antthing stricter now) would not have allowed for any form of genetic counselling based on research lab SNP results. There are plenty labs around that will do reliable paternity testing.

  12. If the fleet’s away, mummy will play.

    Jeez, yes. After a particularly rough week of duty (several decades ago), my lads (subs were all male then, unlike the grey funnel line) decided I needed to get spectacularly pissed and arranged with the then fiancée that I wouldn’t go home on the Friday evening but they’d take me out on the lash.

    One of my duties, and the source of some of the grief, had been vetting (aka ‘censoring’) the short signals the distaff halves (and some other family – they were rarely the problem though) sent to the on-crew.

    We quickly ended up in the local seedy bar / night-club / trapping joint (there may have been a curry previous. See ‘spectacularly pissed’.) Sailors. There is some dispute about which language “go ugly early” was invented but no doubt that it was by a matelot.

    The things that drove me to rapid drink (that night, anyway) was the sight of all the darlings of the on-crew (i.e. away at sea and practically incommunicado) in full trapping gear and mode.

    Also the ‘box of OMO washing powder on the kitchen windowsill’ (“Old Man Out”)? Yes, real thing. Also amateur porn taken in what is obviously a military married quarter.

  13. Not condoning equivalent shitty behaviours, but in fairness to the men folk playing away from home, they tend not to be the ones passing off someone else’s offspring as hubby’s…

  14. “The thing is, now that we’ve this proof ability, is that legal system going to change? Logically it should of course but will logic make it through he accumulated special interests?”

    Let me give you an idea how it changes based on an existing, real-world, example. California.

    In California, a woman can name you as the father of the child. Has to name *someone* in order to claim welfare benefits for the child. California will then do up some paperwork and serve it to you.

    It doesn’t have to reach you. She doesn’t have to provide any proof. You don’t ever even have to have lived in that state. Once served you have 90 days to respond. Once that 90 day window closes, a summary judgement is handed out against you and you’re the father – legally.

    And now on the hook for child support.

    Now, somehow get a DNA test – and in CA the mother can withhold consent for that (so don’t think that you’re going to get one before that 90 day window closes) – to prove you’re not the father? The courts there have openly said they don’t care. All they care about is that *someone* is on the hook for the child’s maintenance and that having that someone is more important than individual rights.

    Oh, and there’s no appeal process. You have to sue to try to fix it.

  15. I recall a case were a guy discovered the kid wasn’t his, divorced her and ended up paying child support while the ex shacked up with the actual father.

    Yup, happened in the US. At the birth of any child the supposed father ought to have the right to get a DNA test confirming it’s his. Naturally, some states have moved to outlaw this: can’t have women on the hook for infidelity now, can we?

  16. All they care about is that *someone* is on the hook for the child’s maintenance and that having that someone is more important than individual rights.

    It’s stuff like that makes me think maybe the Muslims are right after all.

  17. It’s stuff like that makes me think maybe the Muslims are right after all.

    You will find that it is you who are mistaken, about a great many things…

    *laughs in emperor*

  18. Just as DNA can show you who your father isn’t, it could also tell you who your father is and who therefore should have been shelving out maintenance all those years.

    Thinking back to.my twenties, it never occurred to me I was the one getting royally shafted.

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