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Paternity Fraud! Do I need to establish paternity?

Parties might misjudge paternity cases as something they only see in a “bombshell” interview on daytime television. Paternity Fraud is certainly a huge problem for those who suspect that they have been duped.

But the fact is that paternity cases do not typically look like this. Instead, they are situations where parents and presumed parents simply want to define and understand their parental rights and responsibilities. Doing so can be crucial in the following scenarios.

Parties disagree on parentage

Multiple parties could be unsure of who is the father of a child, including the mother, previous partners and current partners.

When any parent or presumed parent disagrees on who a child’s biological father is, confirming paternity can be the only way to get satisfactory answers. The parties involved can take DNA tests to determine who really is a child’s father.

A mother wishes to pursue child support

A mother may have no interest in maintaining a relationship with the father of her child. However, a child has the right to receive financial support from both parents. Thus, a mother wishing to collect child support to provide for her child may need to confirm paternity to asset a claim for child support.  (And on the other side of the coin, the putative father may wish to establish paternity so that he can assert the child’s right to enjoy a relationship with the father.)

We should also note here that a man can be responsible for paying child support for a non-biological child in some cases. Such could be the case when there is a “settled intention”, or a conscious decision by a male person to stand in the place of a parent.  Beware. Even if you do not believe that you have that requisite “settled intention”, a court might determine otherwise.

Challenges to parentage presumptions

Ontario courts presume a male party is a child’s parent in a variety of situations, including:

  • If he is married to the mother when a child is born;
  • If he marries the mother after the birth and voluntarily acknowledges paternity;
  • If he was cohabitating with the mother consistently before the child was born; and,
  • If a man certifies the child’s birth

However, there may come a time when parties doubt this presumption and become wary of paternity fraud. For example, new allegations of infidelity or a child’s appearance or traits that do not align with the putative father could challenge the assumptions parties previously made.

These scenarios can be emotional, to be sure. However, with legal counsel and a focus on protecting parental rights and responsibilities and a child’s best interests, parties can avoid unnecessary drama, conflict, and anguish.

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