Proving and Disproving Paternity
In the days before DNA testing was widely available, the husband of a child’s mother was presumed to be the father of the child. Today we can establish with total certainty who the biological father of a child is. There are reasons to wish to establish that one man is the father and another is not.
Paternity and the child’s best interest
In the context of a family, a man who is married to the mother of a child, lives with the child, financially supports the child and holds himself out publically as the child’s father is the legal father. If a man does not live with the child’s mother and desires to be recognized as the legal father, he can petition the court to officially recognize his paternity.
The establishment of paternity ensures that a father:
- Fulfills the financial responsibilities of supporting the child
- Is guaranteed visitation rights
- Can request a shared custody arrangement
An action of establishing paternity is contingent upon two things — the disestablishment of the currently presumed father and the best interest of the child. If the child is more than five years old and has an established relationship with the presumed father, it is unlikely that the court would allow any type of paternity action.
In the event that the court rules it in the child’s best interest and the man who is currently presumed to be the father is willing to step down from that role and its obligations, he can disprove his biological paternity through a DNA cheek swab test. If he is proven not to be the biological father, he is then released of all parental responsibilities, including financial support.
The area of legal paternity is complex and still evolving. While the courts debate the benefits of comparing DNA, let’s not forget that love, affection, care and emotional bonding also determine who is a father.
If you have questions about your rights as a father, speak to a child custody attorney in the Buffalo and Western New York area. We can represent you in a paternity case of any kind.