Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mexican high court: DNA results are but one element in resolving question of legal paternity

Guadalajara -
In a case of first impression, Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that a legal presumption of paternity based solely upon the presence of a father's name on the child's birth certificate will not prohibit DNA evidence establishing the contrary.

A five judge panel of the 11 member tribunal found that the admission of DNA results would guarantee a child's "natural right" to the determination of his biological identity, a right which the court said is of "unquestioned constitutional dimension."

"In a paternity proceeding, the identification of a putative (alleged) father on the birth certificate will in no respect prevent the admission of genetic evidence which establishes the point scientifically," the ministers ruled.

But DNA results alone will not dictate a court's determination of legal paternity and the assignment of responsibility for maintenance of the minor. "That will depend upon the factors in each case, the most important of which are the paramount interests of the child."

Adopting a rule long followed by many American domestic relations courts, the judges found that the shifting of legal paternity from the presumed father to the biological father could be detrimental to the emotional and physical well-being of the child. Hence DNA results, though an important part of the decision making process, are not dispositive of the legal issue. A non biological parent may be held responsible for a child's upbringing, despite scientific evidence confirming the absence of any blood relationship between the two, if a formal change of paternity would likely prove harmful to the minor. Such an unusual result, although not common in U.S. paternity litigation, neither is unprecedented.

The ministers ruled to resolve conflicting decisions entered by two lower courts. One court found that if a father is named in the birth certificate, that factor alone forecloses consideration of DNA evidence establishing the contrary. The other court found that genetic proof must always be considered at a paternity trial, suggesting that DNA results will automatically trump a birth certificate's identification of the father. The Supreme Court rejected both views in its decision, selecting an intermediate approach.

Feb. 27 - Mexican high court awards punitive damages in Acapulco hotel electrocution case
Jan. 16 - Mexican judges: warrantless cell phone tracking is legal

Mexican Supreme Court rejects appeal of co-defendant in U.S. agent's 1985 murder case
Mexican Supreme Court overturns release of Guadalajara Cartel drug lord
Mexican Supreme Court establishes U.S. style property division rules in divorce cases
Mexican Supreme Court rejects HIV discrimination case
Mexican Supreme Court ruling expands abortion rights

© MGR 2014. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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