Are Mobile Paternity Labs Coming to the Streets Near You?

From helping mothers secure much-needed child support to helping fathers gain their desired visitation rights, there is simply no disputing just how important paternity tests can prove to be in family law matters.

While we typically envision these paternity tests as being performed in relatively small numbers by scientists working diligently in controlled laboratory settings for thousands of dollars, this hasn’t been the case for decades. In fact, thanks to scientific advancements, paternity tests can now be performed at far more reasonable prices and in much larger numbers.

According to the American Association of Blood Banks, over 380,000 relationship DNA tests were performed by accredited labs in 2010 alone, and this number could actually be much higher if tests by non-accredited labs are also factored in. By comparison, only 120,400 paternity tests were performed in 1990.

To demonstrate just how mainstream paternity testing has become, consider that there are currently RVs emblazoned with the phrase “Whose your daddy?” on their sides roaming major East Coast cities offering mobile paternity/DNA testing to people on the streets.

These “mobile clinics” — which are owned and operated by a New York-based organization called Health Street — offer paternity testing to interested parties for $350, as well as mobile drug testing.

“It’s somewhat of an in-the-closet issue,” said Jared Rosenthal, the owner of Health Street. “We’re kind of taking the covers off it — putting it on the street.”

While critics of mobile¬†paternity¬†testing argue that it takes a rather blithe approach to a very serious matter that could potentially undermine a family’s very structure, many state officials have come out in support of it, claiming it can eliminate doubts for both the parent and child, and hasten the child support collection process.

For his part, Rosenthal points out that DNA testing is not just about establishing paternity for child support purposes. Rather, the testing could be used to grant a father reassurance that a child is his, confirm a biological connection between long-lost family members, and even prove a biological relationship for inheritance purposes.

What are your thoughts on these mobile DNA labs?