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Paternity- How is it determined? Estoppel

An examination of "Paternity by Estoppel"

We have previously examined ways in which paternity may be determined scientifically, such as through DNA testing. We have also examined the concept of the Presumption of Paternity where a child is born during or of an intact marriage. Few exceptions apply, such as physical incapability.

This article examines the concept of "Paternity by Estoppel." That is, where there is no longer the presumption of paternity because an intact marriage no longer exists, the court may nonetheless determine that a paternal relationship exists where the putative father continues to act 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.

If you have questions about paternity or custody, contact the family law team at Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC.

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