Forced DNA tests in new bill

NZ Herald March 20, 2008
A new bill would allow courts to order compulsory DNA testing of children for paternity checks, regardless of consent. United Future MP Judy Turner’s private member’s bill provides for the Family Court to order cheek swabs for DNA testing of children whose paternity is in dispute. The measures in the Family Proceedings (Paternity Orders and Parentage Tests) Amendment Bill also include warrants allowing the possibly forcible taking of the child to get the sample if a parent resists the order. At present, courts can only recommend parentage tests and parental consent is required for children under the age of 16. The Law Commission recommended court orders for DNA samples in its 2005 report on Legal Parenthood, saying parents should not be able to unreasonably thwart such requests.

* International research indicates the wrong biological father is listed on about 10 per cent of children’s birth certificates – up to 5000 children in New Zealand every year.
* Under Judy Turner’s bill the Family Court would be able to order swabs to test children.
* In cases of lack of compliance, courts could issue a warrant to allow for enforcement, using reasonable force if necessary.
* Penalties for resisting would be up to 3 months’ jail or a $2500 fine.
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