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House Bill 568 would require DNA test for child support
Rep. Katie Dempsey said Thursday that requiring DNA testing in new child support cases is a way to end wrongful paternity claims prior to legal action.
The Rome Republican authored House Bill 568, which would allow the Georgia Department of Human Services to order the tests in any case where the absolute paternity of a child or children has not been established.
Dempsey said the bill impacts cases where children are born out of wedlock without a clear biological father.
“This would allow the Department of Human Services to take the lead on child support cases and have the paternity established right up front,” Dempsey said.
This is in contrast to the current process of waiting for a court action against a person refusing to pay child support before a DNA test is ordered.
The bill was passed favorably out of the House Juvenile Justice Committee earlier this week and is set to be heard in the Rules Committee this morning.
If it is passed out of Rules, it would go to the floor of the House later today for a full vote.
Dempsey chairs the Human Services Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, and she is a member of the Rules Committee.
This is the 30th day of the legislative session. A bill must pass out of either the House or Senate by the end of today in order to have a chance at becoming law this year.
Dempsey said the pending legislation would ensure a person — in most instances the presumed father — is not wrongfully required to submit payments and other child support services.
“This is dealing with the true legality of who the father is; to say by law whether they are required to pay or not,” Dempsey said. “We have people in jail who are behind on child support payments and are not the parent of the child in question.”
Dempsey said DHS Commissioner Keith Horton asked her to put forth the bill this session.
The increased funding required to cover the cost of the DNA tests is built into the bill, as it allows the state to receive federal grants. The bill also covers recovery of certain testing fees.
Dempsey said tests, which cost the DHS $100 each, would be performed on the child as well as the presumed parents. The grants would cover all but about $33 of each test, which the state would pay.
If the genetic test excludes the possibility of the alleged father being the biological father, then the parent who has custody and applied for child support will have to reimburse the state.
If the alleged father is determined to be the biological father, then the parent who does not have custody must pay the $33.