Agenda for the 21st Century
Child Support Agenda for the 21st Century
Parents should have equal status by default
Partners should know about paternity
All children should have been accepted children
Eliminate sex discrimination from child support
There should be no Treasury saving or state compulsion
Child support should be formally awarded to the children
Use a formula to determine the amount
Have closer ties between child support administration and family courts
Use a symmetrical formula that treats both parents similarly
Household benefits/credits should not be treated as income
Amounts should relate to spend on children, not wealth
Also - Exclusions from the Agenda for the 21st Century
Also - A method of judging proposals
Also - International Agenda for the 21st Century
Related topic - Can Child Support Agencies ever work?
Related topic - The 21st Century is making the reformed scheme obsolete
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Partners should know about paternity

This should be the last generation when a significant proportion of children born into (quasi-) marriages in "the Western world" have a paternity that would surprise the (quasi-) husband.

What?

The aim is that "all children born have a paternity which is known and accepted by the husband or male partner".

If a child is born whose bio-father is not the husband or male partner, there a genuine dilemma - there is a child whose needs must still be met, and possibly one who believes the man concerned is their father. Some men themselves are not sure whether they want to know the truth, and there is no doubt that many of them are devastated when they learn that they are not the bio-father. (Then, having to pay child support as well becomes a double-whammy).

Why?

This proposal is based on the simple logic that trying to sort things out after the child is born is too late. It is better to ensure that such dilemmas don't arise. It is better to have a society where, because of the certainty of being found out, women don't give birth to children whose paternity would be a surprise to their husbands or male partners.

This objective must not be confused with "eliminate paternity fraud", because it is significantly different. That is because the "paternity fraud" discussion is concerned with what should happen when a child has already been born whose bio-father is not the husband or male partner. That is the wrong time to sort out the problems.

The typical paternity fraud case is where a mother claims child support from a man, falsely identifying him as the father of the child. He may simply acknowledge that he is the father, and start paying. He may be judged to be the father, and be required to start paying. Or it may be judged "not in the interest of the child" to determine his true relationship with the child, and he is required to start paying anyway. There are many variations, such as an automatic "presumption" that a husband is the father, or there may be a time period allowed for a challenge to the ruling. Where the requirement to pay child support can be terminated by proper determination, there are variations in whether the man can get the money back (and if so, from whom). There is rarely if ever a penalty against the mother for the false claim.

Many of the actions taken against the men concerned are flawed, and increasingly this is recognised. But they arise from a genuine dilemma - there is a child whose needs must still be met, and possibly one who believes the man concerned is their father. Some men themselves are not sure whether they want to know the truth, and there is no doubt that many of them are devastated when they learn that they are not the bio-father. (Then, having to pay child support as well becomes a double-whammy).

This is not an objective about "morals" - this web site is not about morals. This objectives is about the practical consequences of those dilemmas. How to achieve the objective is for those concerned to sort out for themselves. This may be to avoid adultery, to use contraceptives, to have an abortion, to disclose the true paternity to the husband or male partner, or to separate so that there isn't a male partner.

The most obvious winners are children and fathers. By extension, "society" will benefit because of the reduced conflict. (Women who don't "conceive away" will not be affected. Or perhaps they will gain because their faithfulness will be undoubted).

The most obvious losers will be women who want to "conceive away" and not be found out. In future, they WILL be found out. They will risk destroying their partnership, with no resultant claim on the male partners. Other losers will be the REAL fathers of the children, who will typically be forced to take responsibility. (In effect, they will come into the category of the "stupid men" who should have used male contraceptives, see above! And they will pay for their stupidity for perhaps 16 or 18 years!)

How?

The technology concerned is DNA/paternity testing, of course. But that simply "enables" paternity to be established beyond doubt. It will be all the health issues relating to genes, especially but not only those arising from the Human Genome Project, which "causes" an explosion in establishment of genetic relationships. See also:
Wives & female partners who "conceive away"

Sometimes science & technology developments are convincingly aligned with "what society wants" (eg. a cure for Smallpox). Sometimes there is a reasonable consensus that science & technology developments are contrary to "what society wants" (eg. biological weapons). And sometimes there are various "equally valid" social futures, some of which would be helped by inevitable technology developments, while some would be opposed by those same technology developments.

This page states a social objectives which would be helped by inevitable technology developments. This objectives may appear desirable to some, or irrelevant or undesirable to others. But because the science & technology developments are pretty inevitable, it would be wise to improve society by exploiting these developments, and foolish to try to achieve alternative social objectives which would be thwarted by these developments. These are not "profound" objectives (such as "everyone should tolerate the views of everyone else in the world"), and in the UK they are probably the views of the majority anyway. However, they can still be hindered by short term or narrow policies, identified here.

In summary, the actions needed are those that:

  • make suitable technology available
  • avoid any barriers to the use of this technology
  • encourage the truth about paternity to be available to all concerned
  • remove financial and other motives for women to have such children
  • discourage men other than the husband or male partner from becoming such a bio-father

Although this objective is different from "eliminate paternity fraud", one of the desirable actions is indeed to eliminate paternity fraud. That is because the availability of paternity fraud means that some women will not be discouraged from giving birth to such children. In fact, it is desirable to make paternity fraud a punishable offence, as with other attempts to obtain money by deception.

References

Relationship to other Agenda items
All children should have been accepted children These items are based on the primacy of bio-parentage.
Other pages in this web site
"The truth is out there" - Commentary on "Move to outlaw secret DNA testing by fathers"

A paper that makes the case for "personal knowledge paternity tests" (also known as "peace of mind" paternity tests).

A Word version is available from the Downloads page.

“Knowledge is bliss” - Towards a society without paternity surprises A draft paper that proposes that, by 2020, we "solve" the problem of paternity surprises by systematic effort by government and society.
Wives & female partners who "conceive away"

Whatever the laws on presumption of parentage, DNA tests to detect bio-parentage are presumably here to stay, and will get cheaper, easier & faster. The way people behave in marriage may need to adapt to the availability of these tests.

It would be a VERY good idea for women to stop "conceiving away" ASAP!

Potential lobby groups
   
Other relevant external links
Code of Practice and Guidance on Genetic Paternity Testing Services

An ad hoc Group on Genetic Paternity Testing Services was brought together for the express purpose of considering genetic paternity testing services provided in the United Kingdom.

The Group's membership included representatives from commissioners of genetic paternity testing services, providers of such services, patient groups, clinicians, academics and scientists. The Code has been considered by the Genetic Testing Sub-group of the Human Genetics Commission, who have absorbed the former Advisory Committee on Genetic Testing (ACGT).

Parliament written answers

2002-04-15

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the licensing and vetting procedures are for new genetic tests to be sold directly to the public;
(2) what mechanisms have been put into place to ensure that claims made by manufacturers of currently licensed genetic tests have scientific and medical validity;
(3) what the procedures are for approving and regulating genetic testing services.

Yvette Cooper: The "in vitro" diagnostic medical device (IVD) regulations (SI2000 No. 1315) ensure that IVDs that have a specific medical purpose meet relevant essential safety, quality and performance requirements before being placed on the market with a CE mark. The regulations came into force on 7 June 2000 with a transition period until December 2003. During this time, manufacturers may choose on which basis to place their device on the market. The regulations require that manufacturers of IVDs bearing the CE mark must be able to demonstrate that the device will achieve the manufacturer's claimed performance.

The Department has published two voluntary codes of practice and guidance for genetic tests being sold directly to the public. These set out broad requirements in areas such as: peer-reviewed evidence of value, accreditation and quality assurance in testing laboratories, consent, confidentiality, sample and information storage, and customer information. Under the "Code of Practice and Guidance on Human Genetic Testing Services Supplied Direct to the Public" (September 1997) suppliers notify the Human Genetics Commission (HGC) of their proposed service and HGC publishes a statement of conformance with the Code. In addition, those supplying genetic paternity testing services are expected to comply with the Code of Practice and Guidance on Genetic Paternity Testing Services" (March 2001). All Government and public bodies commissioning paternity testing services are expected, so far as is practical, to ensure that those supplying services comply with this code.

Parliament written answers

2002-05-10

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of the health consequences of the sale of genetic testing kits to the public;
(2) what plans he has to regulate the sale of genetic testing kits;
(3) what assessment has been made of the voluntary system of regulation for commercially available genetic testing kits. [54204]

Yvette Cooper: Genetic testing kits that are placed on the market and fall within the definition of an in vitro diagnostic medical device (IVD) will be regulated by the IVD Regulations (SI2000 No 1315) which came into force on 7 June 2000 and has a transition period until 7 December 2003.

The Department has published two voluntary codes of practice and guidance for genetic tests being sold directly to the public. These set out broad requirements in areas such as: peer-reviewed evidence of value, accreditation and quality assurance in testing laboratories, consent, confidentiality, sample and information storage, and customer information.

Under the "Code of Practice and Guidance on Human Genetic Testing Services Supplied Direct to the Public" (September 1997) suppliers notify the human genetics commission (HGC) of their proposed service and HGC publishes a statement of conformance with the Code.

In addition, those supplying genetic paternity testing services are expected to comply with the "Code of Practice and Guidance on Genetic Paternity Testing Services" (March 2001). All Government and public bodies commissioning paternity testing services are expected, so far as is practical, to ensure that those supplying services comply with this Code.

Convention on the Rights of the Child

(United Nations)

Article 7
1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and. as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.

Article 12
1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

The girl admitted under parental questioning that she was pregnant, but couldn't say who was responsible.
"All right !" bellowed her Mother, "you march yourself to your room, and don't come out until you can give us a definite answer."
Later that night her voice rang down the stairs. "Hey Mom, I think I have an idea now."
"I should hope so!" the Mother responded. "The very idea that any daughter of mine could get pregnant, let alone not know the
father."
"Chill Mom." the girl said. "I got it narrowed down to the band or the football team."

Page last updated: 19 December, 2003 © Copyright Barry Pearson 2003