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Grandparents’ rights and DNA testing

by Dinnebier & Demmerle on December 16, 2014

Grandparents’ rights and DNA testingSuppose a young man and woman who do not have an ongoing relationship conceive a child. The mother and her family are raising the child. The father has refused to begin a relationship or to even legally acknowledge the baby. However, his father, the child’s grandfather, wishes to establish a relationship with the child, including visitation. If his son will not step forward to “hold out” the child  as his own, what can a grandparents do to assert their legal rights regarding their new grandchild? Answer: they can petition the court for visitation, etc. after legally sanctioned DNA testing satisfies the court that there is indeed a genetic relationship.

There are other reasons that grandparents seek DNA testing on their grandchildren. Two common reasons are that the grandparents have doubts about the paternity of their son’s or daughter’s child, or they would like to prove that they are related to a grandchild whose family denies the relationship and bars them from developing a relationship with the child. A DNA grandparentage test can conclusively determine if a child is one’s biological grandchild or not.  Grandparentage testing is usually performed when the possible father is not available for a DNA paternity test.  In such cases, the court can order testing of the biological parents of the possible father and compare their DNA with the child’s DNA to see if the possible grandparents have passed down their genetic material to the child through the father. Conversely, maternal grandparental testing can be conducted to confirm biological relationships in situations where the mother is no longer available for a maternity test.

A mother may have DNA testing as well to prove genetic connection to a child; the above scenario is not gender-limited to one side of the parentage or another. Siblings are routinely tested to confirm or disprove relationships to other family members.  With today’s blended families, there many be different biological parents “represented” within one family. Additionally, grandparents may undergo genetic testing if the possible father (their son) is deceased and paternity is in question.

The subject of genetic testing, particularly in relation to divorce and other family law matters, is a sensitive, potentially divisive one. It is important to keep in mind, then, that the content of this blog is not intended as legal advice, but only for information and/or discussion purposes. Should you have questions or concerns about how California family law may apply to you, you may wish to consult a knowledgeable family law attorney. 

As Orange County’s premier family law specialists, the attorneys at Dinnebier & Demmerle can provide answers to your questions and concerns, clarify and establish your legal rights, and represent you in court. If you would like more information about grandparents’ rights, genetic testing, paternity, or any other aspect of California family law, please call to set up a consultation. We’re ready to move forward when you are. Just contact us in Tustin at 714-838-1099.

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