Legislative Update: The Paternity Establishment Amendment Act of 2022. (DC Council)
The week the DC Council had the first reading on Bill 24-0656, the Paternity Establishment Amendment Act of 2022. This bill would allow the Court to order DNA testing when requested, even if a person has executed a valid acknowledgment of paternity or when there is a prior judicial finding of paternity.
The Paternity Establishment Amendment Act of 2022 addresses issues with the Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) document. This document is used when a child is born to unmarried, opposite-sex parents to establish that the child is theirs biologically. This document is one of two ways: a parent can establish a child’s paternity at birth. This form also indicates the legal responsibility of the signer for the child’s financial support.
Unfortunately, there are times when there are mistakes or inaccurate information on the form. This would create a situation where someone is listed as the biological father when in fact, they are not. However, the Court, utilizing historical interpretation of current law, rarely allows AOPs to be revisited or undone, which has adverse consequences for all involved. One could be made to pay child support or face penalties for child support that is not actually owed. Biological parents could be restricted from raising their children or be denied rightful custody, leading to lengthy court proceedings.
Bill 24-0656, would amend the City's paternity statutes that would allow the Court to order DNA testing when requested by at least one of the individuals (mother or father). It will also clarify how the Court should consider DNA evidence and the facts surrounding the execution of the AOP in determining whether to set aside an AOP.
The sponsor of the Paternity Establishment Amendment Act of 2022 is Chairman Mendelson at the request of Attorney General Racine. The bill is at the beginning of its legislative process and is in Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, which is chaired by Councilmember Charles Allen. CLPA will provide updates as it progresses through Committee.