DNA testing is mandatory and results obtained within five weeks
The Responsible Fatherhood Act guarantees children the right to know the identity of their parents. Since its enactment in April 2001 to date, there have been more than 58.000 applications.
With the law, mothers have the opportunity to add the father’s name to the child’s birth record even though the father does take responsibility. The request to investigate and include the father’s name can made at any time after birth record and until a father is on record.
The law states that the birth record must first be filed with the mother’s surname and then a request can be made to the Registro to begin the process of identifying (legally) the father. Once notified, the man can, within 10 working days of the notice, to accept the paternity or request a DNA test.
If the man does not respond to the notice, he is assumed to be the child’s father and the birth record is updated.
While it may seem simple enough, the process of notification can be tedious, first locating the man and then effecting notice, which “has to be personally made”, according to Luis Bolaños, head of Inscripciones del Registro Civil (Registration of Vital Records).
The DNA testing is made at the Laboratorio de Genética Molecular de la Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS), where there is no waiting list. According to Viviana Arce, lab tech at the CCSS, some 100 DNA tests a week are performed, a process that takes about five weeks and there are no backlogs at present.
Arce added that paternity is confirmed in about 75% of the cases, that is to day that three quarters of the requests confirm the investigation of the Registro and claim by the mother.
According to Bolaños, in the cases where the DNA test is negative, the information is added to the record and the child continues with only the surname of the mother. Until the next investigation, when the process starts all over again.