Determining Whether Admission of Genetic Test Results Would Be in the Best Interests of the Child

Michael K.T. v. Tina L.T. (1989), 182 W. Va. 399, 387 S.E.2d 866, the court established a procedure for equitable in camera "best interests" hearings by which the court considers the equities surrounding the particular facts and circumstances of the case and determines whether the admission of genetic test results would be in the best interests of the child. This determination focuses on such factors as: (1) the length of time between when the putative father was first placed on notice that he might not be the biological father and when he acted to contest paternity; (2) the length of time during which the putative father assumed the role of father to the child; (3) the facts surrounding the putative father's discovery of the alleged nonpaternity; (4) the nature of the father/child relationship; (5) the age of the child; (6) the harm which may result to the child if paternity were successfully disproved; (7) the extent to which the passage of time may have reduced the chances of establishing paternity and a child support obligation in favor of the child; (8) all other factors involved in the potential disruption of the parent/child relationship or the chances of undeniable harm to the child. The court in Michael K. T., 182 W. Va. at 405, 387 S.E.2d at 872, justifiably decreed that in making a "best interests" determination "if there has been more than a relatively brief passage of time the law favors the innocent child over the putative father in certain circumstances."