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Establishing paternity by acting as the father

When a child is born in Louisiana, paternity can be established. But sometimes, fatherhood is not established at birth or is not known. In other cases, a man may claim paternity without being the actual father. This is what happened to one man who was married to the mother of a child, though courts said that he established his position as father in a way that some may argue against.

At some point, the man suspected that his wife was involved in an extramarital affair. She denied that this was the case, though it was, and eventually gave birth to a baby girl. The mother told her husband that the child was his, so he began to care for the young girl as his own. Four years later, the couple separated. Soon after that the supposed father, with his suspicions still intact, said that he conducted a paternity test and discovered that the child was not his.

He reduced his custodial time after discovering this but did not stop seeing the child. Reports indicate that the man still treats the child as if she was his-she has not been informed that he is not her biological father.

The mother of the child filed for support from her estranged husband in order to help care for the young girl. In response, the man filed a petition asking for his paternity to be disestablished pending the results of a DNA test. His request was denied because the courts said that his paternity was established by his actions of acting as the father, even when he held suspicions that the child was not his.

With the best interests of the child in mind, a judge determined that the man would remain the child's legal father because the young girl has known nothing else. The man has already appealed this ruling.

Source: BCTV, "Common-law doctrine bars man from rejecting paternity of his non-biologic daughter in Berks court," J. Benjamin Nevius, Jan. 4, 2013

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