Friday, September 28, 2007

Paternity Test Negative But He is Still the Daddy

Recently, the Superior Court Of Pennsylvania reversed a decision by the Trial Court which named the biological father as the father of the child and rescinded the paternity of a man who voluntarily acknowledged paternity shortly after birth even though no paternity test had been performed. In this case, the mother and the non-biological father had an ongoing sexual relationship. When mother became pregnant, mother and non-biological father agreed that no matter what the paternity test stated, he would be the father of the child. They agreed to no genetic testing and resided together during the pregnancy.

The parties resided together for approximately a year after the child’s birth. Differences ensued and mother refused to allow non-biological father access to the child. He filed a Petition for Custody. Then, both parties submitted to genetic testing.

Notably, the genetic testing did not take place until approximately one year after the child’s birth. Once the test came back negative, the parties filed various Motions and ultimately joined another individual to the case, who, after genetic testing, turned out to be the actual biological father.

In another twist, the non-biological father tested positive for marijuana and was restricted to supervised visitations. Non-biological father then asked the Court to confirm his paternity due to his acknowledgment of paternity even though he was found not to be the biological father. On the other hand, the biological father requested that the Court vacate non-biological father’s Acknowledgment of Paternity so he could be the true father and mother joined in that request. The Trial Court ultimately ordered that the Acknowledgment of Paternity be rescinded due to fraud and found that the biological father was the true father of the child. However, non-biological father appealed.

The Superior Court reviewed the history of the case and did not agree that a fraud had been committed. Furthermore, the Superior Court relied on the original Acknowledgment of Paternity at a time when no DNA tests had been performed. The Court repeated the public policy that "children should be secure in knowing who their parents are, and, if a person has acted as a parent and bonded with the child, the child should not be required to suffer the potentially damaging trauma that may come from being told that the father he has known all his life, is not, in fact, his father." (Gebler vs Gatti, 895 A.2D 1 3 (Pa. Super. 2006) (citation omitted).)

The Trial Court concluded that the Acknowledgment of Paternity should not be rescinded and therefore, stood. Accordingly, the result in this case is that even though the paternity test showed that a different person was the father, because this non-biological father had a relationship with the child, bonded with the child, intended to be the child’s father and acknowledged paternity, he remained the true father.

The lesson and moral of this story? Signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity has serious, sometimes irreversible, consequences.


mary said...

I know a similar case, my husband acknodlegde paternity in the case of twin sisters, born while having an affair, after few months I did a dna test without their mother consent and was negative. My spouse signed for them as the father and does not want to change the birth certificate know. Can I inpugne the name, I have 3 kids, do they have to share what we have???

Linda A. Kerns, Esquire said...

Acknowledgements of Paternity can be a legal quagmire. I suggest that your husband consult with a local attorney familiar with these issues, who can analyze the case and determine his rights.

Anonymous said...

I live in the state of NJ and I had a son in 2001. The father signed the birth certificate at the court house, because he had missed the lady at the hospital. and now seven years later, he wants to get a generic test done after he waived his rights doing the child support hearing. Can this be done

Anonymous said...

i have a similar case. though he willingly signed the birth certificate at birth. he tells me a year later he got a genetic test and he isnt the father. he wont help me support my daughter and wont give me the results! can i take him to court and even if he isn't the biological father and still get child support?

Linda A. Kerns, Esquire said...

In some cases, if a father ackowledges paternity, that action may be irreversible. Additionally, some genetic tests from outside labs are not admissible in court. Anyone facing a paternity issue should consult with a local attorney, familiar with the law and procedure in this area.

Anonymous said...

I am going through this issue now... I was dating my now ex-husband when I became pregnant with my son.. I didn't have any doubts and still don't doubt that he is his father. When we separated my son was 13yrs old, my husband decided he wasn't his father. i tried to shield my son from the hateful things he was saying but my ex didn't give up. he took me to court and asked for a DNA test. Originally, the judge told him that it was out of the question since my son was 13 and he had signed an acknowledgement of paternity at birth. Somehow his lawyer pulled some strings and suddenly it was reversed. My lawyer filed an appeal which took some time but the ruling stands. I had to take my son downtown this week to have a DNA test. It took a lot out of me and my son when I had to sit him down and tell him that the man who has been his father all his life and is still playing Daddy now wants to deny him. I dont understand how a court could allow this disruption in my son's life. I have no doubts that the DNA test will prove he's the father but how will my son recover. This can't be fixed emotionally for either of us. The law failed my son miserably

Anonymous said...

if i signed my ex signature and mothers signature as witnesses and can prove its not their signatures do i have to go to court just to get his name off? i know what i did was fraud at the time i thought it was in the best interest of my child.