I grew up in a very nuclear family, so the idea of not knowing my father was never an issue. The recent press over Leicester Bryce Stovell, the man claiming to be basketball star LeBron James father got me thinking about the paternity process.
But first, here is the latest in LeBron’s case: Stovell claims that the results of the paternity test he recently took were falsified by James and his mother, Gloria, and that James’s committed fraud and misrepresentation in an effort to conceal the identity of James’ father. Stovell further alleges that his character was defamed by James’ comment, “I want to be a better father than mine was.”
This is not your typical paternity dispute (neither is this one involving deceased Chess champion Bobby Fischer being exhumed from his grave to determine whether he is the father to a nine year old Pilipino girl) in that paternity tests usually involve the mother or child seeking the test in order to establish a relationship, child support, custody and visitation rights, adoption, inheritance, and other parenting issues. In this case, it is the father wishing to establish the biological relationship and also seeking millions of dollars in damages for being denied access to his “son.”
A paternity test is essentially a DNA test to prove beyond a legal doubt that by taking samples from the child and the father that there is a biological relationship. States vary as to the standard they require but the test is the same. Paternity tests claim 99% accuracy and can be completed in a couple of days, plus both before birth and after death.
In a recent study conducted by LegalMatch, there was as much interest in determining paternity as there was contesting paternity. This is not too surprising as this can be a very costly issue for both parties and there is a lot at stake. Highly emotional, the paternity test can serve as the final adjudicator in the issue of fatherhood.
Reading these various articles and cases surrounding paternity, I am still amazed how far technology has come. The fact that we can test a baby in the womb or exhume a dead body to establish paternity is quite a feat and can hopefully serve to answer the important question of fatherhood.
In the case of LeBron James, I think it is a shame that Stovell has only come forward after James has made millions of dollars and been raised by his single mother. One aspect of paternity that I do like hearing about is the increase in companies granting father’s paternity leave in the same way mothers take maternity leave. I think this is a great trend and one that seems to be gaining momentum.