Complicated Family Law Challenges Posed By Companies Like 23andMe and Ancestry.com (Part 1)

January 30, 2019 | Category: Family Law

At one time, DNA testing kits seemed like little more than a science fiction concept. Today, however, these tests are not just available — they're easily accessible. Fueled, in part, by BOGO deals and other discounts, these tests are blowing up. As of late 2017, over 12 million people admitted to using these direct-to-consumer tests. Ancestry.com announced that over 1.5 million customers sought tests during the 2017 Black Friday weekend alone.

Ads for companies such as 23andMe or Ancestry.com depict happy families, finally connected to their roots. Unfortunately, real-world DNA testing stories aren't always as happy as they seem in marketing materials.

When DNA Tests Prompt Divorce

A recent Vox story shed light on the complicated role at-home genetic testing can play in divorce. The drama began when an unnamed biologist purchased 23andMe kits for his parents and himself — and checked a box requesting that he be notified of close genetic connections. He was linked with a man he previously didn't know existed. Ultimately, the test results revealed an affair that occurred before his father was married. The ensuing tension led to his father's divorce.

Ultimately, the author of this sad story realized that his test wasn't just a fun activity or a simple means of satisfying his curiosity — it essentially served as an "advanced paternity test." He remains completely devastated by the outcome, explaining, "I wrestle with these emotions...I still hold out hope that in time we can resolve things. But I also worry that as these transitions happen there may have been some permanent emotional damage that may not be able to be undone."

Whether your divorce was triggered by at-home genetic testing or a more 'conventional' cause, you can benefit from the support of a family lawyer you trust. Contact the Brown Law Offices today to learn more about your options.

Complicated Family Law Challenges Posed By Companies Like 23andMe and Ancestry.com (Part 2)

February 6, 2019 | Category: Family Law

Could an at-home DNA test be all it takes to connect you to your heritage? Or could it prompt unforeseen consequences — perhaps shaking the foundation on which your family is built? Both outcomes are possible. In Part 1 of our series on direct-to-consumer genetic testing, we explored a few of the unexpected implications these tests can have for couples and families. Now, we share additional stories of difficult circumstances brought about by DNA test results:

Spouses and Cousins

DNA tests don't merely reveal infidelity — they can show that your spouse is a closer relative than you ever expected. Such was the case for author A.J. Jacobs, who explained on HuffPost Live that a list of cousins he received from 23andMe included his wife. While he merely referred to this discovery as "interesting," some spouses may be considerably more bothered by such findings — especially as marriage between cousins is prohibited in many states.

An Enlightening Reddit Response

Is ignorance always bliss? Not necessarily. While many people are concerned about the problematic information genetic tests may bring to light, others argue that it's no better to be left in the dark on these important issues. In a notable Reddit thread, for example, a user complains of a divorce prompted by a genetic test that revealed different parentage than he or she anticipated. User outlnder responded, "Your parents are not divorcing because of your results. Your parents are divorcing because your mother has lied to your father for decades and cheated on your father. They were not as happily married as you thought." This may be true, but DNA tests can still prompt unexpected complications when results indicate infidelity or other significant breaches of trust.

Regardless of the role at-home genetic testing has played in your marriage or divorce, you deserve support from an attorney who cares. Contact Brown Law Offices to get started with your consultation.

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