So you just found out that you have a child you did not know anything about! She’s 5 years old, you have never seen her, but the lady you slept with 5 years and 9 months ago says “she’s yours”. She goes on to tell you that she’s married, has been for almost 5 years and her present husband has treated the child “like his own”. But, now she wants you to pay child support because she figures you make more than her husband.
Your first defense? The old “DNA” right? Well, the results show that you are in deed the child’s father – so now what? Your second defense, if you have a good attorney, is a concept known as “Paternity by Estoppel”. Paternity by Estoppel is a concept in Pennsylvania, as well as many other states, whereby there is a presumption of paternity toward the person who has held himself or herself out as the parent, for example, in this case, the Husband, even though they are not the biological parent. In essence, if you act like the parent, you are going to be deemed the parent by the court.
In K.E.M. v. P.C.S., No 67 Map 2011, 2012 WL 573635 (Pa. Feb. 21, 2012), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined that there will be a presumption of you being the parent, if you hold yourself out as the parent and, if after considering all of the facts, it is in the “best interest of the child” to determine you as the parent. Of course, there are a plethora of factors that go into evaluating what it is in the “best interest of child”, but that’s a subject for another blog.
Should you find yourself in a situation where you need paternity or divorce related advice, please call my Pennsylvania Law Office, Gusty Sunseri & Associates, P.C., for a free consultation.