The Presumption of Paternity
A child born to a married couple is presumed to the child of that couple. Pennsylvania has a presumption in the law that says that the child is presumed to be the child of the married couple. Of course we know that sometimes people have an outside sexual relationship (adultery) and a women has a child whose father is a third party. Until recently, it was difficult or even impossible to even get a paternity test unless both parties agreed. This was true even if the women became pregnant by man 1, and while pregnant, married man 2. Man 2 was presumed to be the natural father of the child and it could be impossible under the law to have the court even recognize a paternity test. Our office even had a case were a boyfriend and girlfriend were living together and became pregnant, subsequently breaking up. Mother, then married another man days before she gave birth. Under the law, the child was presumed to be the child of the now husband. Ridiculous?…of course. (Mother eventually agreed to a paternity test and our client was recognized as the father, getting his wish to be a dad).
Recently, however, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has established that the court should consider the “best interest of the child” when deciding whether to order a paternity test. This may include factors such as how old the child is, who the child believes is the father, the behaviour of the natural father or the presumed father. Other factors may include:
- The relationship between the child and the men involved;
- The pattern of custody and domicile of the child;
- The attachment of the child to the parties;
- The emotional/psychological ties of the child to the parties;
- The length of time the child and the parties have had a relationship;
- The bond between the child and the parties; and
- The actions of the parties both before and after they determined the nature of the true paternal relationship
The legal presumption that a child born to a married couple is their child appears to still remain part of the law in Pennsylvania.