Tennessee Code Annotated

Title 24: Evidence and Witnesses

Chapter 7: Admissibility of Evidence

TCA 24-7-112: Tests to determine parentage -- Admissibility in evidence -- Costs.

(a)  (1)  (A)  In any contested paternity case, unless the individual is found to have good cause under § 454(29) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. § 654(29)), the court, or the department of human services in Title IV-D child support cases, shall order the parties and the child to submit to genetic tests to determine the child's parentage upon the request of any party if the request is supported by an affidavit of the party making the request:

                (i)   and such affidavit: Alleges paternity, and sets forth facts establishing a reasonable possibility of the requisite sexual contact between the parties; or

                (ii)  Denies paternity, and sets forth facts establishing a reasonable possibility of the nonexistence of sexual contact between the parties;

                (iii)  and such affidavit: Denies paternity.

          (B)   In addition, upon the court's own motion, at such times as it deems equitable, or by administrative order by the department of human services in Title IV-D child support cases, tests and comparisons pursuant to this section shall be ordered; or

          (C)  In any case, except terminations of parental rights or adoptions under title 36 or title 37, in which the paternity of a child is at issue and the question of parentage arises, and an agreed order or divorce decree has been entered finding that an individual is not the parent of the child, the finding shall not be entitled to preclusive effect unless the finding was based upon scientific tests to determine parentage which excluded the individual from parentage of the child in question.

     (2)  During any other civil or criminal proceeding in which the question of parentage arises, upon the motion of either party or on the court's own motion, the court shall at such time as it deems equitable order all necessary parties to submit to any tests and comparisons which have been developed and adapted for purposes of establishing or disproving parentage.

     (3)  In any civil or criminal proceedings pursuant to this section, the tests ordered shall be conducted by an accredited laboratory. In the case of genetic tests, and at such time as the secretary of health and human services designates accreditation entities which acknowledge the reliability of types of genetic tests used in the establishment of paternity, such genetic tests shall be of the type which are generally acknowledged as reliable by accreditation entities designated by the secretary, and the genetic tests shall be performed by a laboratory approved by such a designated accreditation entity.

     (4)  The results of such tests and comparisons which are ordered pursuant to this section, including the statistical likelihood of the alleged parent's parentage, if available, may be admitted into evidence as provided in subsection (b).

(b)  Upon receiving the results of the tests and comparisons conducted pursuant to subsection (a), the court shall proceed as follows:

     (1)  (A)  Either party may request an additional parentage test upon the advanced payment of the costs of the additional parentage test. If the additional tests are requested by the department of human services, its contractors or any state agency, the costs of such additional tests shall be paid for upon being billed for such by the testing agent and may be recovered by those entities in any parentage proceeding from the person established as parent of the child.

          (B)  (i)  If the results of the first test exclude paternity and the second test also exclude paternity, or, if the initial test results are negative on the issue of paternity establishment and no second test is requested, this shall be conclusive evidence of non-paternity and the action shall be dismissed.

                (ii)  If the results of the first test establish paternity and the second test again establishes a positive statistical probability of parentage as described in subdivision (b)(2)(B) or (C), the positive test results with the greater positive probability of parentage shall be definitive for purposes of the application of the appropriate evidentiary standards relative to the presumptions and the defenses available in subdivision (b)(2).

                (iii)  If the results of the second test are different from the first test in their outcome relative to the exclusion or establishment of paternity, the court, or the department in appropriate cases, may order a third test, or the court may make a determination between the accuracy of the previous two (2) tests for purposes of determining paternity.

          (C)  The results of any tests which may exclude a person as the father shall not preclude the initiation of a new paternity action involving another putative father or by a putative father against a mother to establish his paternity.

     (2)  (A)  In any proceeding where the paternity of an individual is at issue, the written report of blood, genetic, or DNA test results by the testing agent concerning the paternity is admissible without the need for any foundation testimony or other proof of the authenticity or accuracy of the test unless a written objection is filed with the court and served upon all parties thirty (30) days prior to the date of the hearing. For purposes of this section, service shall be deemed made upon the date of mailing.

          (B)  A rebuttable presumption of the paternity of an individual is established by blood, genetic, or DNA testing showing a statistical probability of paternity of that individual at ninety-five percent (95%) or greater. In such event, the case shall be tried before the court without a jury regarding the issue of paternity without the evidentiary limitations of subdivision (b)(2)(C).

          (C)  When the results of blood, genetic or DNA tests show a statistical probability that a man is the father of the child in question by a statistical probability of ninety-nine (99%) or greater, the putative father may only attempt to rebut his paternity of the child by filing a motion with the tribunal and establishing upon clear and convincing evidence one (1) or more of only the following circumstances:

                (i)  The putative father had undergone a medical sterilization procedure prior to the probable period of conception, or other medical evidence demonstrates that he was medically incapable of conceiving a child during the probable period of conception;

                (ii)  That the putative father had no access to the child's mother during the probable period of conception;

                (iii)  That the putative father has, or had, an identical twin who had sexual relations with the child's mother during the probable period of conception; or

                (iv)  The putative father presents evidence in the form of an affidavit that another man has engaged in sexual relations with the mother of the child in question during the period of probable conception. In this case, the court shall order genetic testing of that other man in conformity with this section. The results of that genetic test must indicate that the other man has a statistical probability of paternity of ninety-five (95%) or greater to establish an effective defense pursuant to this subdivision.

          (D)  (i)  If, after test results showing a statistical probability of ninety-nine (99%) or greater, the putative father is able to show by clear and convincing evidence to the court that one (1) of the enumerated defenses in subdivision (b)(2)(C) is present, the matter shall be set for trial before the court without a jury.

                (ii)  If the putative father does not raise one (1) of the enumerated defenses in subdivision (b)(2)(C) or does not establish by clear and convincing evidence that one (1) of the enumerated defenses in subdivision (b)(2)(C) is present after test results showing a statistical probability of paternity of ninety-nine (99%) or greater, the court shall, upon motion by the other party, establish that individual as the father of the child in question, and shall order child support as required by the provisions of title 36, chapter 5.

          (E)   An affidavit documenting the chain of custody of any specimen used in any test pursuant to this section is admissible to establish the chain of custody.

     (3)  All costs relative to the tests and comparisons under this section shall be paid initially by the party requesting such tests with the final allocation of costs awaiting the outcome of the proceedings, at which time the court shall determine the proper allocation of costs. Costs for initial tests requested by the department of human services or its contractors or any other state agency shall be paid by those entities with the costs to be recovered in any parentage proceeding from the person established as parent of the child.

History: [Acts 1957, ch. 30, § 1; T.C.A., § 24-716; Acts 1983, ch. 459, § 1; 1991, ch. 268, § 1; 1994, ch. 988, §§ 2-4; 1997, ch. 551, §§ 43, 44; 2000, ch. 922, § 1.]