Before reading the below, please take a moment to rid yourself of any preconceived ideas you may have witnessed on popular television shows. This article will attempt to provide a brief overview of how the courts establish paternity in a father-child relationship, because sometimes DNA testing alone is not enough. In the State of Michigan v. Carnell Alexander, a man was ordered to pay approximately $30,000.00 in back child support, even though DNA test disproved paternity. In Kansas, William Marotta, who responded to a Craigslist ad to donate sperm to a same sex couple, has been declared the presumptive father of the child by the Shawnee County District Court. The court found Marotta was not entitled to protections under the Kansas Parentage Act because the parties did not use a doctor to facilitate the artificial insemination.
According to the Uniform Parentage Act, there are 5 ways to show the existence of a father-child relationship.
1. Presumption of Paternity
2. Acknowledgment of Paternity
3. Order Establishing Paternity
4. An Adoption
5. Consent to Assisted Reproduction
Presumption of Paternity: A man is the presumed father of a child if (1) he is married to the mother and the child is born during the marriage, (2) he is married to the mother of the child after the birth of the child and he voluntarily asserts his paternity of the child and (a) the assertion is recorded with the bureau of vital statistics, (b) he is voluntarily named as the child’s father on the birth certificate, (c) a recorded promise to support the child as his own, or (3) he lived with the child during the first two years of the child’s life and represented to others that the child was his. This presumption can be rebutted by a court order or the presumed father files a denial of paternity along with an acknowledgment of paternity by another person.
Acknowledgment of Paternity: This is the document dad’s sign at the hospital when a baby is born. This document must be recorded and signed by both mom and dad. This acknowledgment is the equivalent of a judicial finding of paternity and a challenge to this document is permitted under limited circumstances.
Order Establishing Paternity: A civil proceeding may be initiated to determine the parentage of a child. However, if the child has a presumed father, this action must be brought before the child turns four years old. If the child does not have a presumed father, this action can be brought at any time. These proceedings are only heard and decided by a Judge; a jury is prohibited from adjudicating the paternity of a child.
Adoption: Once you complete the rigorous process of adopting a child, you are adjudicated parent, no take backs.
Consent to Assisted Reproduction: Generally, a donor is not a parent of a child conceived by means of assisted reproduction. However, if a husband donates sperm and consents to assisted reproduction by his wife, he is the father of the resulting child. This is also true for unmarried couples, as long as there is a record of consent for the use of the sperm that establishes the intent of the man to be the father of the resulting child.
While there are many misconceptions and urban legends regarding the issue of paternity, the legal standards clearly indicate that a simple DNA test may not be enough to establish or dispute paternity.
Texas Family Code Sec. 160. Uniform Parentage Act.