Not the father? You’ll want to protect your rights

Want to make life a little better? Some with wisdom will tell you that one thing you can do is to always assume positive intent. Those who make that their practice say it makes it easier to face any given moment calmly, collectedly and rationally.

Assuming positive intent is something that can be difficult to do in the context of Illinois family law. Where issues of parentage are concerned, especially in cases where the parents of a child are unmarried, there can be a general bias against the father. We touched on this in an earlier post.

Often, unwed fathers who want to be engaged in their child’s life face undue bias that leads them to have to fight for parental and visitation rights. But there can also be a bias toward the position that unwed fathers should be accountable for child support. There have been cases in which courts ordered support, even when DNA tests showed a man wasn’t the father of the child. Is that fair?

One of the most interesting tensions that exist in family law is the one between meeting the best interests of the child while making sure that the rights of the purported parents are upheld.

One recent case out of New Jersey presented a judge with a particular dilemma in this regard. It involved a woman who went to her local social services agency to seek assistance for her 2-year-old twin daughters. As is often the case, the woman was required to name the father and she pointed at a former lover.

In the course of the legal proceedings, however, it came to light that the woman had sex with a second man within a week of the first. And DNA testing revealed that the man who’d been identified as the father was only father to one of the fraternal twin girls. Based on that evidence, the judge ordered the known father to pay support for only the child that was known to be his.

It seems this unusual situation led to a family law decision rooted in fairness.

Source: CNN, “New Jersey judge rules twin girls have different fathers,” Haimy Assefa, May 8, 2015

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