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Biological quirk results in fraternal twins with different dads

A peculiar news story regarding paternity test results grabbed national attention recently and it’s one even residents here in Nevada may have heard about. Most people marveled at how easily biology can give us amiss and present us with scenarios we could only imagine happening in a fiction book. People from the legal community though marveled at the story for a different reason.

For people involved in the legal system, this paternity case presented a particularly challenging set of legal circumstances that if addressed improperly, could impact the lives of the mother, father and children involved. Today, we’d like to look at this case and point out the legal issues it addressed.

The case we are referring to is that of the woman who gave birth to twin daughters who each had different fathers. This wasn’t known when the case first began as only one man was named as the father for the girls. It wasn’t until after doing a paternity test that it was revealed that the fraternal twins were actually half sisters.

Doctors believe this happened because of a process called superfecundation, which happens when two eggs, which have been released during the same fertility cycle, are fertilized by different sets of sperm. Considered to be a “rare phenomenon,” particularly in humans, superfecundation perfectly highlights how important DNA testing can be when trying to handle family law issues like paternity cases.

From child custody to child support, parental rights to visitation rights, all of these issues become slightly more complicated when the child’s legal or biological father has not been established. Instead of assuming who is the father though, which is how the case above began, courts can use DNA testing to determine parentage. This leads to correct custody determinations and the right assessment of a support obligation.

Though the above case does present an uncommon set of circumstances that could force any court to think carefully about its decision, the process for handling challenging family law cases is hardly different from handling any other family law case. It’s how the courts choose to approach the situation and address the issue at hand that means the difference between a fair resolution and one that may have been rushed or not based on all of the facts.

Source: The New York Times, “Paternity Case for a New Jersey Mother of Twins Bears Unexpected Results: Two Fathers,” Benjamin Mueller, May 7, 2015

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