Divorce & Paternity

by Beverly Bird

If you have children, resolving issues regarding their care will be a major part of your divorce case. And if you suspect that one of your children isn't biologically yours, this creates a whole new wrinkle in the proceedings. If you are right and you don't take legal steps to set things straight, you'll pay support for that child just as you would if she were your own. But if you do take legal steps and your hunch is correct that the child may not be yours -- you could deny yourself the right to custody.

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Presumption of Paternity

If a child is born during your marriage, the law presumes that you are the father. In some states, such as Ohio, this is the case even, if the child is born up to 300 days after you and your spouse break up. It's a rebuttable presumption, so you have the right to prove otherwise in court.

Disproving Paternity

If you have doubts about your child's paternity, you can file a motion requesting genetic testing as part of your divorce proceedings. In some states, such as Indiana, it may be virtually impossible to make such a request after your divorce is final, so if you have doubts -- speak with a lawyer. If your paternity is disproved, the court will enter an order or will include a provision in your final decree that states that the child is not of your marriage. This eliminates your responsibility for paying child support on her behalf, but it also means you can't seek custody. When you disprove your paternity, you relinquish your parental rights.