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Paternity tests clear New Orleans fatherhood doubts

Public figures, like teenage entertainer Justin Bieber, can easily become victims of paternity lawsuits. Imagine having genetic claims splashed across the front page of a New Orleans newspaper or blog. Unwanted and untrue publicity can be embarrassing. In some cases, the news causes permanent damage to families and careers.

A paternity suit against Bieber started with a claim that the pop singer met with a fan at a backstage concert for a short sexual fling. The episode allegedly ended with a pregnancy and a child. Many headlines and a DNA test later, the woman withdrew her lawsuit. Bieber recently admitted that the public legal mess tempted him to quit singing.

Paternity issues are not isolated to famous people. Every day, regular men are wrongly named as fathers, while some unmarried dads struggle in court to make their fatherhood recognized.

Men are not the only victims of paternity disputes. Children suffer, too. A father can develop a close relationship with a child he believes to be his own, only to find out later that the child has no genetic or legal connection.

Under some state laws, husbands are the default fathers of children born during marriage. The husband retains legal parental rights, even if a child is fathered by a man outside the marriage. Some laws prevent biological dads from realizing they are or are not the father of a child.

Child support, custody and visitation issues are commonly resolved with court-ordered genetic tests. Fathers who suspect they are not dads and men who think they are can obtain legal advice. State statutes dictate how and when a man can or should prove a biological connection to a child.

Consulting with an attorney about paternity gives a man a chance to demonstrate that he is not a father or, in the other extreme, assert parental rights.

Source: KJRH, "Justin Bieber wanted to quit pop after paternity scandal," June 18, 2012

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