Germany's highest court ruled that the results of paternity tests conducted secretly may not be used evidence in court. The court, however, called on legislators to draw up legal framework simplifying paternity tests.
The Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe concluded Tuesday that clandestine paternity tests would breach children's rights in determining how their personal information is used. The ruling upholds similar decisions from Germany's lower courts.
Judges, however, also ruled that German lawmakers must lay out a legal framework by the end of March 2008 to ease the process for men who doubt whether they are the biological fathers of children to have paternity tests performed.
Secret genetic tests will remain illegal and the results cannot be used as evidence in court
DNA from chewing gum
The ruling was based on a constitutional complaint from a man known as "Frank S." The man had doubted his paternity based on a medical report confirming that his potency was only 10 percent. He had had a DNA test performed secretly using saliva taken from a piece of gum allegedly chewed by his legal daughter.
Results from the test showed he was not the father, but the court rejected the use of the results as evidence in court.
Tuesday's decision by the Constitutional Court still makes secret tests illegal, but the judges have clearly stated that men have the right to find out whether they are the biological fathers of children. Once laws are in place in the future, "doubt about paternity" is reason enough to legally challenge paternity.
Currently, the law states that there must be "viable grounds" for a legal challenge, and either the child or mother must agree to a DNA test before one can take place.
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