The following is a special Glossary of DNA Paternity Testing Terms.
Absent Parent: Non custodial parent.
Administrative Process: A statutory system granting authority to an executive agency (instead of courts or judges) to determine child support obligations, including paternity establishment, order establishment, enforcement, and modifications.
Admissible; Admissibility: Any testimony, document, or demonstrative material that is officially considered by the court, i.e., allowed into evidence, generally in compliance with the rules of evidence.
AFDC "Aid to Families with Dependant Children": Our national welfare system for children in need of support. It has been replaced with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant program.
Arrearages: The deficiency between the amount, if any, paid and the amount required under court order. If payments are made voluntarily on a de facto basis, i.e., not under court order, any reduction in the amount of such payments is not considered an arrearage.
Attorney for the Child(ren): A court-appointed attorney who represents the stated wishes of the child(ren). Unlike a guardian ad litem who acts in the child’s best interest by substituting her own judgment for the child’s, the attorney for the child(ren) must promote those causes espoused by the child(ren) and generally not substitute her own judgment.
Bases: (In DNA) Four building blocks of nucleic acids. They are Adenine (A), Thymine (T), Guanine (G), and Cytosine (C). They are complementary in that the only stable base pairs are AT/TA and GC/CG. The length of DNA fragments is measured in base pairs (bp).
W = (CPI) (Pr) (CPI) (Pr) + (1 – Pr)
W = Probability of Paternity CPI = Combined Paternity Index Pr = Prior Probability
Burden of Proof: The party asserting a claim must prove such claim is true. In paternity cases, the burden in most states requires that paternity be established by a "preponderance of the evidence," meaning that paternity (or lack of paternity) is "more likely than not." We call this the 50.01% test, meaning that if evidence is even slightly greater than 50-50, it constitutes a "preponderance of evidence." Some states insist on a higher standard, known as the "clear and convincing evidence" test. This test is more stringent (harder to overcome) than the "preponderance" test, but not as strict as the "beyond a reasonable doubt" test, the standard in criminal cases. Many states have thresholds of 95% or more percent in order to create a presumption of paternity.
Child Support: Court-ordered payments from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent that are not tax deductible by the non-custodial parent, nor includable in the custodial parent’s taxable income.
Chromosome: A thread like structure found in the nucleus of the cell that carries genetic information arranged in a linear sequence. It consists of a complex of nucleic acids and proteins. At certain times during cell life chromosomes appear as distinct units. In humans there are 46 in the nucleus of every nucleated cell arranged in 23 pairs.
Combined Paternity Index (CPI): The product of the individual PI values calculated for each independent test. The CPI is the ratio based on the testing of the probability that the alleged father is the biological father (x) to the probability that a random man is the biological father (y). This value is calculated when the alleged father can not be excluded on a minimum of 2 tests.
Complaint to Establish Parentage: A formal written document filed in court whereby the person initiating the action provides the names the parties involved, the allegations, and the request for relief sought; the initial pleading, sometimes called the petition.
Custody–Legal: A legal status or "custodianship" vesting authority to approve all major decisions affecting a minor child. "Joint," "split," and "shared" legal custody require both parents’ approval of all major decisions.
Custody–Physical: Relates to the physical location of the child. The adult with whom the child resides is said to have physical custody. Such terms as "sole," "primary," "shared," and "joint" are used to describe various parenting and visitation plans.
DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid): The molecule that encodes genetic information. DNA is a double-stranded helix held together by weak bonds between base pairs of nucleotides. DNA is a genetic material that is routinely tested in parentage evaluations.
Direct Exclusion: When a characteristic is found in the child that is not in the child’s mother, it must have come from the biological father. If an alleged father does not have the factor, he is excluded for that system. If an alleged father is excluded on two independent tests, he is excluded as the biological father of the child.
Dominant: When on allele’s expression in an individual masks the expression of another allele in that individual. Example: people with type A blood can either have two A alleles or one A allele and one O allele. The O allele will not be seen due to the presence of the dominant A allele (see recessive and codominant).
Electrophoresis: The method by which biological molecules are separated according to certain characteristics. In DNA parentage testing the negatively charged DNA fragments are cut and separated by size in a porous material such as agarose, by application of an electric field.
Emancipation: In divorce court, "emancipation" does not necessarily mean "legal majority," i.e., 18 years old. Depending on the state and the educational status of the child, emancipation may occur between ages 18 and 23.
Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS): A computerized national location network operated by the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement to help the States locate parents in order to obtain child support payments. FPLS obtains address and employer information from Federal agencies and the National Directory of New Hires.
Garnishment; Wage Assignment; Wage Attachment: A court order to a third party, usually an employer, requiring the employee’s wages to be attached (automatically deducted from a paycheck) and assigned (paid) to another party, usually the mother.
Gene: The fundamental unit of heredity; an ordered sequence of nucleotide base pairs to which a specific product or function can be assigned. Many genes have alternate forms referred to as alleles (see allele).
Guardian ad Litem (GAL): A court-appointed individual who, for the purpose of pending litigation, puts himself in the shoes of a legally incompetent person such as a minor child. He also investigates the matter and files a report with the court.
Hardy-Weinberg Law: The mathematical expression of the equilibrium of allelic genetic markers within the population. A mathematical model that allows for the prediction of occurrence of genetic markers in a population and states that in a large random intra-breeding population, not subjective to excessive selection or mutation, the gene and genotype frequency will remain constant over time.
(p + q)2 = P2 + 2 pq + q2 = 1 p and q represent the frequency of two allelic genes in a two allele system.
p2 and q2 represent the frequencies of homozygotes.
2pq represents the frequency of heterozygotes.
In a multiple allelic system: (p + q + r + s)2 = 1
r and s represent additional alleles in a multiple allele system.
Homologous: In chromosomes, a pair of chromosomes that contain the same gene (although perhaps different alleles). There are 23 pairs of homologous chromosomes in humans; one of each was contributed by each parent.
Indirect Exclusion: A presumed exclusion based on the observation that the child and AF are homozygous for different alleles. It is possible that the child and AF actually share a null gene that is not detected. An indirect exclusion is not considered 100% conclusive, and usually before an opinion of nonpaternity can be rendered, a search is made for a second direct or indirect exclusion.
Judgment: The official decision or finding of a judge or administrative agency hearing officer upon the respective rights and claims of the parties to an action; also known as a decree or order and may include the "findings of fact and conclusions of law."
Long Arm Statute: A law which permits one State to claim jurisdiction over nonresident parties. There must be some meaningful connection between the person and the State in which the jurisdiction is exercised in order for it to be constitutional to reach beyond the court’s normal jurisdictional border.
Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE): The Federal agency within the Administration for Children and Families in the Department of Health and Human Services that is responsible for the administration of the child support program.
Paternity Index (Likelihood Ratio): For an individual genetic system it is the ratio between the chance that the alleged father may pass the paternal gene compared to the chance that a random man may pass the paternal gene to the child. It is sometimes referred to as the genetic odds in favor of paternity, given the genetic findings in the mother-child-alleged father.
Phenotype: The measurable genetic markers in a given individual at a specific locus. It may or may not reflect the actual alleles present (see genotype). Example: a person with type A blood is said to have the A phenotype but could have the AO genotype.
Power of Exclusion (A): The ability of a genetic test to exclude a falsely accused man of paternity and is dependent upon the phenotypes of the mother and child and the ethnic background of the alleged father.
|A = (1 – p) 2 where p = the frequency of the paternal allele in the child.|
Prior Probability (Pr): An assigned numerical value of from 0 – 1 (ranging from impossible to certain) of the non-genetic evidence used in evaluating paternity. It is estimated on the basis of the circumstances surrounding the event, e.g. casual acquaintance versus an intimate relationship. A prior probability of 0.5 is considered neutral and is an equal weighting of the nongenetic evidence for and against paternity.
Probability of Paternity (W): A statistical means of describing the likelihood that the alleged father is the biological father of the child. This value incorporates the genetic (Paternity Index) and nongenetic (Prior Probability) information.
Probe: Short segment of DNA that is tagged with a radioactive or chemical tracer and is then used to detect the presence of a particular DNA sequence through hybridization to its complementary sequence.
Random Man Not Excluded (RMNE): The frequency with which men selected at random from the same racial group as the alleged father and tested to the same extent as the alleged father would not be excluded as the biological father of the child.
Variable Number of Tandem Repeats (VNRT): DNA locations that are comprised of short (i.e. 10-70 base pairs) repeats arranged in tandem. The length of the location will depend on the number of times the sequence is repeated. The number of repeats will vary among nonrelated individuals.
Visitation; Supervised Visitation: Pursuant to stipulation, agreement, or court order, visits of unemancipated children with their non-custodial parent. Visits are supervised by a responsible adult when the non-custodial parent is accused of child abuse or neglect.
Visitation, Grandparent: Grandparents have visitation rights in all 50 states. These rights generally do not cover non-biological descendants, i.e., adopted grandchildren or biological grandchildren given up for adoption.