Paternity by Estoppel

paternityPaternity may be determined scientifically, such as through DNA testing and by the Presumption of Paternity, where a child is born during or of an intact marriage.

Paternity by Estoppel is where there is no longer the presumption of paternity because an intact marriage didn’t or no longer exists, the court may nonetheless determine that a paternal relationship exists where the putative father has acted as the father.  One may be “estopped” or told ‘you cannot go back on your word’ where the father’s and mother’s conduct continues to establish a parental relationship.  The parties hold the child out to the community as “theirs” and the father supports and fosters the relationship with that child.  Once estoppel is established, genetic testing may not be admitted to contradict it.  This is because the courts desire permanency for the child in the relationship with father.

In cases where the father denies that the child is his, he may not be able to ask that a DNA test be performed if he made prior statements admitting to being the father.  Paternity may also be inferred from a persons conduct indicating that he is the father.  This can be sufficient for the court to enter a support order. 

In situations when a man denies that he is the father, the Mother may not be able to request a DNA test when she has held someone else out to the world to be the child’s father and that person has acted as the child’s father.

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