Drugstore DNA Test Kit Results Not Admissible

In December of 2009, a man’s new wife brought to his attention that his son of fourteen years didn’t have much of a resemblance to him. He decided to buy a DNA test kit from a drugstore in Indiana and sent the mouth swabs to a testing center. The results came back and indicated that there was no biological relationship between the man and his son.

The man had executed an affidavit of paternity the day after the child was born in 1995. He was informed of his right to take a DNA test but declined. Upon receiving the results from the store-bought DNA test kit, he moved to set aside the paternity affidavit and for DNA testing. The trial court denied his motion and the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed last month, finding that the mother’s testimony that they were involved in an exclusive sexual relationship at the time of the child’s conception was credible and that the drugstore DNA test kit results were inadmissible.

In Indiana, a paternity affidavit cannot be rescinded more than sixty days after its execution unless there is fraud, duress or mistake of fact and only where the court has ordered a genetic test that excludes the man as the father of the child. The court stated in its reasoning that there was no reason to find the drug store kit results credible since the instructions on them specifically say they are not to be used for legal purposes and that there was no information from the purported laboratory to support its findings.

Surely there are DNA testing centers whose results the court would take seriously and admit into evidence prior to ordering testing on its own. My concern lies in the availability of these resources to those without the means to pay for them. Clearly a drugstore test is a less expensive solution, but its reliability is the concern. Should the state provide an inexpensive means for a reliable DNA test before the litigants even step foot into the court room? Or would that be counting the chickens before they hatch?

In re T.M. (B.M. v. S.K.), Ind. Ct. App., No. 49A02-1012-JP-1357, 7/19/11

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