If a DNA test proves that a child born during my marriage is not my biological father, then can I deny child support or any parental rights?
Will the courts force me to support a child that is not mine just because the child was born while I was married to this mother?
I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Pennsylvania paternity laws where I am licensed to practice.
Your question addresses an area of law that is somewhat in flux, and that can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Usually, a child born to a married woman is presumed to be a child of the marriage. The purpose of this presumption is to protect and preserve the family unit, and ultimately to promote the best interests of the child.
However, if there is no intact family unit to protect-- because of separation, divorce, or because someone other than the husband was acknowledged to be the father--then the child of the marriage presumption may not apply.
But note that the concept of the intact family refers to the time of the child’s birth and immediately thereafter, when the parents treat the child as a member of their family unit — and a subsequent separation will not terminate the relationship established during the period when the family was intact.
Where I practice, this presumption of paternity when a child is born during the parties’ marriage can only be overcome by clear and convincing evidence.
Some examples of when the presumption has been overcome is when the husband can show that he was physically incapable of procreating or that he had no access to wife during the relevant period.
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If the husband can rebut the presumption that the child is issue of the marriage, then courts will consider DNA tests to rebut paternity, which may or may not be what happened in your case.
Usually, it is true that a man who openly holds his wife’s child out as his own and assumes financial responsibility for the child’s support may be estopped or prevented from later denying paternity, unless they can show actual proof of fraud.
Therefore, at least under my state's paternity laws and dependent upon the actual facts of your case, there is a chance that the courts may consider you the child’s father which would obligate you to support him.
A child support obligation is something that will continue for several years, and, if it turns out you are not the child’s biological father, it is decidedly in your best interests to consult with an attorney that can help you protect your rights.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with divorce lawyers for men in your jurisdiction.