It's a simple enough question for most of us, Is that your child? It wasn't that simple for my client yesterday. He had a son. He knew the son was his, but another man's name was on the birth certificate. His fiance had briefly married another man and even though they were separated and in the process of divorcing, her husband was the legal father of the child. In Pennsylvania, as in most states, the husband is presumed to be the father. This story is extra complicated because the parties were immigrants and afraid that if they were discovered, they would be in trouble. Now, as a Native born American, I know that paternity mishaps are pretty normal. As immigrants they were afraid.
So, yesterday, we found ourselves in court with a Judge ordering a DNA test. Even though my client had paid for a previous test, he discovered that the test alone wasn't enough to add his son to his work health insurance. He discovered the test alone wasn't enough to change the birth certificate. And in court, he discovered the test was good as an exhibit, but only a court certified test would count when it came to having him named as father to his only son. So after a brief hearing where Mom and Dad agreed to have the son tested, we marched upstairs for a DNA test. As the doors were about to close to the testing room, the sweet little boy looked back like he didn't want to go in without me. It was almost as if he knew that I was somehow important in this, but he wasn't quite sure why.
So how do you prevent this from happening? Don't put the wrong man's name on the birth certificate. If you two are the actual parents, you will not get in trouble for listing the correct names. Additionally, follow my blog for a forthcoming post on this topic. As always, it is better safe than sorry.
By Jacquie L. Jones
Join us on a journey of discovery as we explore issues of custody, criminality, and Probate especially in Delaware County, PA.