“The child is not mine, he does not resemble me.”
“I had been travelling, this child can’t be mine.”
“I want to prove that the child is my ex-husband’s so we can get back together.”
These are just a few of the reasons prompting a significant number of city-based couples to opt for DNA tests to determine their child’s parentage. The rise in the demand for such DNA tests has led to more diagnostic laboratories introducing such services.
Metropolis Healthcare Limited is the latest entrant in the field. The laboratory chain on Thursday announced its tie up with the Ohio-based DNA Diagnostic Centre to offer DNA testing to determine paternity, maternity as well as ancestry. “We had been getting many inquiries about paternity testing so we decided to start such a service,” said executive director Ameera Patel. “The tests could help couples worried about their baby being swapped at a hospital,” she added.
The state-run forensic laboratory at Kalina gets about 50 blood samples per month from police stations and family courts for paternity tests. Director Dr MV Garat said that most cases were linked to divorce proceedings.
Malad-based diagnostic laboratory Preventine Life Care, which is over two years old, has been getting eight to 10 paternity test request per month without advertising the service. “Couples look up genetic testing laboratories on the internet. Some have even come from Delhi and Bangalore to get the test done,” said CEO Abhimanyu Kumar. “We counsel couples and sometimes refuse a test if we feel it is unnecessary.”
While such tests are usually required in property disputes and child maintenance cases, some do it for their 'peace of mind', said service providers.
Lawyer Mrinalini Deshmukh said she comes across two to three divorce or maintenance cases every year where a paternity test is required. “In one case an estranged husband denied paying child maintenance claiming that the son was not his. Finally, a paternity test proved him wrong,” she said.
Psychiatrist Anjali Chhabria said paternity testing could save marriages. “I recently met a young boy whose mother had been beating him. The boy revealed that his father had abandoned the family on doubts regarding his paternity,” she said.
Dr Chhabria suggested that couples go for counselling before opting for such tests as results could create rifts in families. “Every technology has cons. Mobiles have led to more extra-marital affairs. But that does not mean we should ban them,” she added.