Should I Get a Paternity Test?
Many men each year are faced with the very real and difficult decision of whether to obtain a paternity test or not. It’s a tough choice to make, even for otherwise happy marriages and relationships. In some situations, a paternity test may make sense, yet in others it may bring more hardship than anticipated.
If you are dealing with a custody dispute or going through a painful breakdown of your marriage or partnership, you may be considering getting a paternity test. Before you do, call the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. to find out how a paternity test may impact your divorce or child custody case. Here are some quick things to consider.
Do Not Sign an Affidavit of Parentage if You Have Doubts
The voluntary way of establishing paternity is for both parents to sign an affidavit of parentage. This establishes that both people agree upon paternity. If you have doubts about whether the child is yours, it’s best not to sign this document without first consulting an attorney.
A Paternity Test Does Not Necessarily Determine Paternity
Yes, you read that right. Just because you are the biological father of a child, it does not necessarily mean you will avoid paying child support or avoid the legal effect of fatherhood. To better understand this, it’s first necessary to know how biological paternity differs from legal paternity.
If you are married to a woman and she has a child during your marriage, Maryland law considers you the presumptive father of the child. If you have reason to suspect that the child was fathered by another man, you essentially have two choices – you can live with it or you can take action immediately. The law is designed to protect the child first. Therefore, if you choose to acknowledge the child as your own and raise the child as your own, you will no doubt develop a paternal relationship. If years down the road you choose to get a paternity test that proves another man is the biological father, a judge will probably still hold you responsible for child support.
A Paternity Test Will Not Outweigh Best Interests of the Child
Though quite rare, sometimes a man will seek to prove that he is indeed the father of a child. This may be for a number of reasons, but courts are reluctant to break up families that want to be together. So, if you had an affair with a married woman and wish to find out if you are the biological parent of the child, expect an uphill battle. You will essentially be arguing that you should intervene in an intact family unit where both people agree that someone else is the father. Courts always look to put the best interests of the child first.
The Emotional Choice
For husbands who believe a child is “not theirs,” it can be a tough call. If they get the test and find out the child is not theirs, it could change how they view the child. Perhaps it will be a devastating discovery. Some men are able to ignore their suspicions and love their child regardless; others cannot. If you are facing this choice, you don’t have to make the decision alone. Sometimes a simple conversation with an attorney can help you weigh the options and answer many of your difficult questions so that you can comfortably make the decision that is right for you.
At the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A., we understand that every family is different and many choices may be extremely painful to make. That’s why we devote ourselves to transparent and open discussions with an attorney. Call us today if you need help with a paternity issue in Maryland.