I had a case recently where a long lost child, or alleged child I should say, came out of the woodwork. The person, now an adult, claims to be the illegitimate child of a decedent in one of my probate cases. It’s not my position to be believe or dis-believe her. As I represent the Administrator of the estate my only job is to advise him of his role. This is not the first time I have had this type of case come up. Is the child really the child of the decedent? How do you find out? Could DNA testing be required? If so, how does that happen? Do they unearth the body? Do they use other relatives? In any event California Family Law section 7550, 7551, et seq provides the information. Here are those sections in full.
FAMILY.CODE SECTION 7550-7558
7550. This chapter may be cited as the Uniform Act on Blood Tests
to Determine Paternity.
7551. In a civil action or proceeding in which paternity is a
relevant fact, the court may upon its own initiative or upon
suggestion made by or on behalf of any person who is involved, and
shall upon motion of any party to the action or proceeding made at a
time so as not to delay the proceedings unduly, order the mother,
child, and alleged father to submit to genetic tests. If a party
refuses to submit to the tests, the court may resolve the question of
paternity against that party or enforce its order if the rights of
others and the interests of justice so require. A party’s refusal to
submit to the tests is admissible in evidence in any proceeding to
determine paternity. For the purposes of this chapter, “genetic tests”
means any genetic test that is generally acknowledged as reliable by
accreditation bodies designated by the United States Secretary of
Health and Human Services.
7551.5. All hospitals, local child support agencies, welfare
offices, and family courts shall facilitate genetic tests for
purposes of enforcement of this chapter. This may include having a
health care professional available for purposes of extracting samples
to be used for genetic testing.
7552. The genetic tests shall be performed by a laboratory approved
by any accreditation body that has been approved by the United
States Secretary of Health and Human Services. Any party or person at
whose suggestion the tests have been ordered may demand that other
experts, qualified as examiners of blood types, perform independent
tests under order of the court, the results of which may be offered
in evidence. The number and qualifications of these experts shall be
determined by the court.
7552.5. (a) A copy of the results of all genetic tests performed
under Section 7552 or 7558 shall be served upon all parties, by any
method of service authorized under Chapter 5 (commencing with Section
1010) of Title 14 of Part 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure except
personal service, no later than 20 days prior to any hearing in which
the genetic test results may be admitted into evidence. The genetic
test results shall be accompanied by a declaration under penalty of
perjury of the custodian of records or other qualified employee of
the laboratory that conducted the genetic tests, stating in substance
each of the following:
(1) The declarant is the duly authorized custodian of the records
or other qualified employee of the laboratory, and has authority to
certify the records.
(2) A statement which establishes in detail the chain of custody
of all genetic samples collected, including the date on which the
genetic sample was collected, the identity of each person from whom a
genetic sample was collected, the identity of the person who
performed or witnessed the collecting of the genetic samples and
packaged them for transmission to the laboratory, the date on which
the genetic samples were received by the laboratory, the identity of
the person who unpacked the samples and forwarded them to the person
who performed the laboratory analysis of the genetic sample, and the
identification and qualifications of all persons who performed the
laboratory analysis and published the results.
(3) A statement which establishes that the procedures used by the
laboratory to conduct the tests for which the test results are
attached are used in the laboratory’s ordinary course of business to
ensure accuracy and proper identification of genetic samples.
(4) The genetic test results were prepared at or near the time of
completion of the genetic tests by personnel of the business
qualified to perform genetic tests in the ordinary course of
(b) The genetic test results shall be admitted into evidence at
the hearing or trial to establish paternity, without the need for
foundation testimony of authenticity and accuracy, unless a written
objection to the genetic test results is filed with the court and
served on all other parties, by any party no later than five days
prior to the hearing or trial where paternity is at issue.
(c) If a written objection is filed with the court and served on
all parties within the time specified in subdivision (b), experts
appointed by the court shall be called by the court as witnesses to
testify to their findings and are subject to cross-examination by the
(d) If a genetic test reflects a paternity index of 100 or
greater, the copy of the results mailed under subdivision (a) shall
be accompanied with a voluntary declaration of paternity form,
information prepared according to Section 7572.
7553. The compensation of each expert witness appointed by the
court shall be fixed at a reasonable amount. It shall be paid as the
court shall order. The court may order that it be paid by the parties
in the proportions and at the times the court prescribes, or that
the proportion of any party be paid by the county, and that, after
payment by the parties or the county or both, all or part or none of
it be taxed as costs in the action or proceeding.
7554. (a) If the court finds that the conclusions of all the
experts, as disclosed by the evidence based upon the tests, are that
the alleged father is not the father of the child, the question of
paternity shall be resolved accordingly.
(b) If the experts disagree in their findings or conclusions, or
if the tests show the probability of the alleged father’s paternity,
the question, subject to Section 352 of the Evidence Code, shall be
submitted upon all the evidence, including evidence based upon the
7555. (a) There is a rebuttable presumption, affecting the burden
of proof, of paternity, if the court finds that the paternity index,
as calculated by the experts qualified as examiners of genetic
markers, is 100 or greater. This presumption may be rebutted by a
preponderance of the evidence.
(b) As used in this section:
(1) “Genetic markers” mean separate genes or complexes of genes
identified as a result of genetic tests.
(2) “Paternity index” means the commonly accepted indicator used
for denoting the existence of paternity. It expresses the relative
strength of the test results for and against paternity. The paternity
index, computed using results of various paternity tests following
accepted statistical principles, shall be in accordance with the
method of expression accepted at the International Conference on
Parentage Testing at Airlie House, Virginia, May 1982, sponsored by
the American Association of Blood Banks.
7556. This part applies to criminal actions subject to the
following limitations and provisions:
(a) An order for the tests shall be made only upon application of
a party or on the court’s initiative.
(b) The compensation of the experts shall be paid by the county
under order of court.
(c) The court may direct a verdict of acquittal upon the
conclusions of all the experts under Section 7554; otherwise, the
case shall be submitted for determination upon all the evidence.
7557. Nothing in this part prevents a party to an action or
proceeding from producing other expert evidence on the matter covered
by this part; but, where other expert witnesses are called by a
party to the action or proceeding, their fees shall be paid by the
party calling them and only ordinary witness fees shall be taxed as
costs in the action or proceeding.
7558. (a) This section applies only to cases where support
enforcement services are being provided by the local child support
agency pursuant to Section 17400.
(b) In any civil action or proceeding in which paternity is a
relevant fact, and in which the issue of paternity is contested, the
local child support agency may issue an administrative order
requiring the mother, child, and the alleged father to submit to
genetic testing if any of the following conditions exist:
(1) The person alleging paternity has signed a statement under
penalty of perjury that sets forth facts that establish a reasonable
possibility of the requisite sexual conduct between the mother and
the alleged father.
(2) The person denying paternity has signed a statement under
penalty of perjury that sets forth facts that establish a reasonable
possibility of the nonexistence of the requisite sexual contact
between the parties.
(3) The alleged father has filed an answer in the action or
proceeding in which paternity is a relevant fact and has requested
that genetic tests be performed.
(4) The mother and the alleged father agree in writing to submit
to genetic tests.
(c) Notwithstanding subdivision (b), the local child support
agency may not order an individual to submit to genetic tests if the
individual has been found to have good cause for failure to cooperate
in the determination of paternity pursuant to Section 11477 of the
Welfare and Institutions Code.
(d) The local child support agency shall pay the costs of any
genetic tests that are ordered under subdivision (b), subject to the
county obtaining a court order for reimbursement from the alleged
father if paternity is established under Section 7553.
(e) Nothing in this section prohibits any person who has been
ordered by the local child support agency to submit to genetic tests
pursuant to this section from filing a notice of motion with the
court in the action or proceeding in which paternity is a relevant
fact seeking relief from the local child support agency’s order to
submit to genetic tests. In that event, the court shall resolve the
issue of whether genetic tests should be ordered as provided in
Section 7551. If any person refuses to submit to the tests after
receipt of the administrative order pursuant to this section and
fails to seek relief from the court from the administrative order
either prior to the scheduled tests or within 10 days after the tests
are scheduled, the court may resolve the question of paternity
against that person or enforce the administrative order if the rights
of others or the interest of justice so require. Except as provided
in subdivision (c), a person’s refusal to submit to tests ordered by
the local child support agency is admissible in evidence in any
proceeding to determine paternity if a notice of motion is not filed
within the timeframes specified in this subdivision.
(f) If the original test result creates a rebuttable presumption
of paternity under Section 7555 and the result is contested, the
local child support agency shall order an additional test only upon
request and advance payment of the contestant.