Presumption of Paternity
The issues of child support and custody can be some of the most difficult to resolve in a divorce. This can become more complicated when a husband who is not the biological father of the child (who is not adopted) is ordered to pay child support. This can happen when a man fathers a child who is born to a woman who is married to someone else. Under these circumstances, the wife’s husband is considered the legal father of the child under what is known as presumptive paternity.
The presumption of paternity is the legal doctrine by which a husband is presumed to be the legal father of a child that is conceived and born while the mother and the husband are married to each other. Even if another man can prove to be the child’s biological father, a court can deny the man visitation or custodial rights to the child because the child is legally the child of the husband.
The presumption of paternity can be rebutted by introducing evidence to show that another man is the biological father of the child. This can be done using DNA testing. Therefore, if the husband, as the presumed father, wants to avoid paying child support, he may be able to do so by showing that he is not the child’s father. A husband can do this as part of a divorce, although a court may be reluctant to release the husband from any responsibility for the child is there is no other father identified.
If a mother holds out a man as the father of her child, she is in some cases prohibited from going after another man later on to claim child support payments. A man who acknowledges paternity of a child or holds himself out to be a child’s father in other ways can also be required to pay child support for a child whom he knows is not biologically his, because he has taken actions that show he has accepted the role.
A court will always determine the issues of child custody based on the best interest of the child. Therefore, no matter how complicated the issue of paternity may become, the court can always revert to the best interest of the child to decide which parent will have access to the child and under what circumstances. If there is a situation where a child’s biological parent wants to be in the picture and the mother’s husband also wishes to remain in the child’s life even after a divorce, it may be best for the parties to work out a solution that works best for all of them outside of the courtroom. Depending on how contentious the divorce is, this option may not always be possible, and litigation may be the only way forward.
Contact Us for Legal Assistance
If you are getting divorced and are concerned about how a court will decide child custody and support issues in your case because paternity may be an issue, contact our experienced child support lawyers and experienced child custody lawyers in Media, Pennsylvania at Barbara Flum Stein & Associates serving Delaware County in all family law matters to schedule a consultation.