Contemporary culture appears to have lost its understanding of the historic linkage between marriage and paternity. In the time before genetic-based paternity testing (basically before the mid-1990’s) there was no way to be certain who the biological father of any particular child was. Marriage, and the presumption that a child born of a marriage was the husband’s child, was a method of binding men to children. This presumption was based on never-fully-accurate notions of female sexual virtue and that marriages were intended to be “fruitful.” Still it was a valuable fiction. In contrast, for children born outside of a marriage, paternity was never assumed. As the old folk saying went, “mother’s baby; daddy’s maybe.” It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that American law even developed paternity rights and obligations when a child was not born into a married family.

While the culture may have forgotten the basis of these historic presumptions, these presumptions remain embedded in the law. A child born of the marriage is legally the child of both spouses (even when, as in same-sex marriages, that is a biological impossibility) and both spouses have equal rights to custody of that child. In contrast, a child born outside of a marriage is in the sole custody of the mother and any rights a man might have to that child are purely in the mother’s discretion until that man establishes legal paternity–at which point he gains an equal presumption on the right of custody to the child.

According to a 2015 United States Department of Agriculture report, “Middle-income, married-couple parents of a child born in 2015 may expect to spend $233,610 ($284,570 if projected inflation costs are factored in) for food, shelter, and other necessities to raise a child through age 17. This does not include the cost of a college education.” Yet I encounter numerous fathers every year who engage in text message flame wars or law enforcement involvement with their baby mamas because they will not invest the funds required to obtain a judicial order of paternity and visitation/custody. Given the cost of raising a child, investing the $3,000 to $4,000 (my typical initial retainer for a visitation case) to remove complete control of one’s relationship with one’s child from a hostile co-parent is one of the best investments one can make.

As long as a father is realistic–not seeking joint or primary custody of a child who has never lived with him when the mother is fit–and the mother not unduly resistant, I can often obtain a final order giving that father autonomous visitation rights and access to the child’s medical and educational providers within the budget of that initial retainer. Even in cases in which the mother is unduly resistant, I have rarely incurred an attorney fee in excess of $15,000–and typically those unduly resistant mothers are required to reimburse a portion of my fee.

Raising a child is an expensive undertaking. For unwed fathers stressed that their relationship with their child is subject to the whims of a hostile mother, obtaining an order of paternity and visitation is an excellent investment. It certainly beats flame wars and police involvement.

One area where law and culture are not congruent is the issue of paternity for children born out of wedlock. In many cases the parents of such children “know” who the father is and act accordingly (know is in quotes because sometimes the putative father’s understanding of his paternity is not accurate). For children born in wedlock the law presumes that the husband is the father. However the law has no idea who the fathers of children born out of wedlock are until there is an order of paternity. So long as the parents of such children get along there is no problem. However when they do not get along an order of paternity can protect both parents’ legal interests regarding their children.

I recently attended a temporary hearing on custody. Often these hearings occur before there has been an order establishing paternity and, since the parties are generally not disputing paternity, no one considers this issue. However, in this instance, the family court judge inquired whether there was an existing order establishing paternity. Being informed that none existed, he determined that one needed to be established as part of this hearing. He asked both parties to acknowledge that my client was the father, to acknowledge that they did not desire paternity testing before establishing paternity, and to acknowledge that if the court found my client to be the father neither party could later come back and challenge the finding. He then issued a ruling finding my client to be the father.

Typically, such a ruling would be incorporated into a temporary order. However temporary orders are intend to expire and this finding of paternity was intended to be permanent. Thus, with the opposing counsel’s and court’s consent, I drafted a separate order of paternity, which is intend to be a final order. I have already employed this procedure in a subsequent case.

Obtaining this final order of paternity is useful to both parties. Even if the case is dismissed under the 365-day benchmark, this order is intended to be final. While it is unclear whether the order would survive a 365-day dismissal, if the paternity finding is part of a temporary order it clearly would not survive such a dismissal. Further, my client can use this order to establish his parental rights without others having to know the remaining details of his case (such as visitation, support and restraints).

When paternity has not been established by marriage or prior order, obtaining a final order of paternity at the initial hearing on custody or visitation is a useful practice.

A few times a year I am contacted by a mother who wants to put her child’s biological father on the child’s birth certificate but she was married to someone else at the time of the child’s birth.  What she expects to be an easy procedure isn’t.  Family court clerks will tell her she needs a guardian for her child so she goes searching for a guardian. Actually the procedure is more complicated than that–a lot more complicated.

“In South Carolina, there is a common law presumption that a child born during lawful wedlock is a child of the marriage.” Fisher v. Tucker, 388 S.C. 388, 697 S.E.2d 548, 550 (2010).  South Carolina couples regularly get divorced without mentioning in their divorce pleadings that, after the parties’ separated, wife gave birth to a child that isn’t her husband’s.  The court, unaware of this child’s existence, grants the parties a divorce.  The divorce decree remains silent about this child’s existence, but paternity remains presumptively the now-ex-husband’s.  Later, when the mother or the biological father want to address paternity, they expect it to be an easy procedure and are surprised when it isn’t.

The law deliberately makes it difficult to “delegitimize” a child.  Decades ago it was considered shameful for a married woman to bear a child that wasn’t her husband’s child: the archaic legal definition of such a child was “bastard.” The law demanded procedural clarity before it turned a child from one born of the marriage into a “bastard.”  Even though the stigma surrounding such children has greatly lessened–if not been eliminated–within the general culture, the law still demands procedural safeguards.  Thus S.C. Code § 63-17-10(E) requires:

Whenever an action threatens to make a child illegitimate, the presumed legal father and the putative natural father must be made parties respondents to the action. A child under the age of eighteen years must be represented by a guardian ad litem appointed by the court. Neither the mother nor the presumed or putative father of the child may represent him as guardian ad litem.

While the statute does not define “presumed legal father,” common law makes it clear that this term refers to the husband.  When a married woman bears a child that is not her husband’s, one must make both the husband and the biological father parties to the paternity action.  This is true even if mother and husband divorce after the child’s birth.  If the child is under the age of eighteen, an independent guardian ad litem must be appointed for the child–and someone will need to pay the guardian’s fee.  Even if all parties agree on paternity, there will need to be a hearing in which the mother, the husband, the biological father and the guardian acknowledge the biological father’s paternity.   When uncontested this is still an involved and not-inexpensive procedure.

The general culture is getting so inured to paternity being divorced from matrimony that most folks assume it is easy to establish paternity of a child when the husband isn’t the father.  However the legal culture encourages and strongly desires that child bearing and marriage remain congruent.  Thus, for the foreseeable future, making a child born of a marriage into a child born of another man will likely require formal and involved legal proceedings.

A colleague of mine, T. Ryan Phillips, emailed me an October 1, 2012 Tennessee Supreme Court opinion in the case of Hodge v. Craig, 382 S.W.3d 325 (TN. 2012).  That opinion approves a cause of action for paternity fraud within that state.  With the rise of paternity testing, this cause of action may become more common and may eventually come to South Carolina.

In the days before genetic testing there was a popular bit of folk wisdom, “mama’s baby daddy’s maybe.”  To deal with the inability to determine paternity, the law created very rigid rules.  Absent one narrow exception, children born to a married woman were children of her husband.  In contrast, children born out of wedlock had no legal father.  A husband could not disclaim paternity of a child unless he could prove “non access” during the potential time period of conception.  Basically soldiers and sailors who went on multi-year journeys to return to a wife bearing an infant could disclaim paternity.  Mere cuckolds could not.  However children born out of wedlock had no legal father and, if the child was to be legitimated, the parents needed to marry (an angry maternal grandfather and a shotgun was often involved).

Approximately 50 years ago the rules loosened and then changed completely on paternity of children born out of wedlock.  Blood tests could potentially rule out paternity in some contested cases but often paternity was determined by the judge looking at the child, the mother, and the putative father, and determining “yeah, it looks like him” or “no, I don’t see the resemblance.”  For a time, many a non-biological father was paying child support based on a judge’s eyeballs.  With the rise of DNA testing twenty years ago, paternity testing is much more certain and the law has slowly lifted the presumption that children born in wedlock are children of the husband.  Yet babies and putative fathers are not routinely tested at the time of the child’s birth and many a man accepts paternity based upon his trust in the mother.

This is a trust that is sometimes misplaced, as it was in the Hodge case.  Ms. Hodge’s behavior, which the opinion describes in detail, was a very unsympathetic: lying repeatedly to Craig about paternity; moving from boyfriend to boyfriend; telling the child his true paternity when he was an older teen in an apparent, and successful, attempt to undermine the child’s relationship with Craig.

Yet the law has typically been reluctant to allow causes of action for paternity fraud, holding that a man who has questions about the paternity of a child needed to make the challenge before there is a court order determining him to be the father.  This bright-line requirement ignores the dynamic of most human romantic/sexual relationships: asking one’s girlfriend/wife for paternity testing of a newborn is to accuse one’s lover of being untrustworthy and unchaste.  Only where the parties are no longer romantically involved is a man likely to demand paternity testing before acknowledging paternity.  Women who intend to behave deceitfully and fraudulently are undoubtedly aware of this dynamic, so there is an incentive to deceive a dutiful boyfriend or husband about the child’s true paternity.  This is what Ms. Hodge did.

One often hears the argument that paternity fraud claims should not be allowed because it “harms” the child.  This argument has always struck me as absurd for two reasons.  First the harm to the child was caused by the mother’s deceit regarding paternity.  Preventing the legal-but-not-biological father from remedying the harm caused by this deceit seems inequitable.  Further, child support is zero-sum money: simply shifting funds from one person to another.  A child may be worse off if his or her mother has to pay back funds she improperly received by committing paternity fraud but the other option is to make an innocent party bear these costs.  I am unaware of other areas of the law in which we expect the fraudulent to get away with fleecing the innocent because the fraudulent have children

Paternity fraud cases have never been allowed–and shouldn’t be allowed–where a mother informs a man that the child is not biologically his or acknowledges she lacks certainty regarding the child’s paternity but he chooses to acknowledge paternity anyway.  However where a mother actively deceives a man regarding the paternity of a child, I see no problem forcing the woman, and not the man, to bear the costs of the deceit.

The trial court awarded Mr. Craig $23,030.24, “representing the total child support paid by Chadwick Bradley Craig,” $2,214.20, “representing medical expenses and insurance premiums paid by Chadwick Bradley Craig,” and $1,181.75 “for TRH Health Plans.” The court also awarded Mr. Craig $100,000.00 “for the emotional distress suffered” and $8,451.71 in attorney’s fees.  Mr. Craig failed to perfect his appeal on the issues of attorney’s fees and emotional distress, and thus the Supreme Court opinion only requires Ms. Hodge to pay Mr. Craig $26,426.19.  However, had he properly perfected his appeal on all issues, he might have been entitled to $134,887.90.  If South Carolina ever authorizes paternity fraud cases it might become a very lucrative sideline for family law attorneys.

A recent scientific breakthrough allows the paternity of an unborn child to be determined through a blood test of the mother as early as the eighth or ninth week of pregnancy.  This prompted Shari Motro, a law professor at the University of Richmond, to write an op-ed piece for the New York Times suggesting the time has come for “pregnancy support alimony” (the Times’ term, not Professor Motro’s).  She suggests that the fathers of these not-yet-born children “be asked to chip in for medical bills, birthing classes and maternity clothes, to help to cover the loss of income that often comes with pregnancy, or to contribute to the cost of an abortion.”

I suspect one’s reaction to this suggestion is strongly correlated with one’s gender.  I can see female readers thinking, “about damn time!,” with my male readers thinking, “Hell no!”  I can see the logic in both genders’ viewpoints.

Obviously, if the law can require fathers to contribute to the support of their out-of-wedlock children, there’s no logical reason they shouldn’t be required to contribute to the support of such children while they’re being gestated.  Professor Motro’s list of costs to be included in such support are all associated with pregnancy, which buttresses her argument that both parents should be required to equitably contribute to these costs.  The major reason such costs haven’t been part of child support obligations isn’t jurisprudential but evidentiary: there was previously no safe, minimally-evasive method of determining paternity prior to birth.  With such evidence now obtainable through a blood test of the mother, this problem is overcome.

However allowing such support further highlights the unreciprocal rights of each gender to determine the course of pregnancy.  The law repeatedly tells fathers that childbearing, and the consequent support obligations, are “one of the risks of heterosexual sex.”  However the law vests women with the full authority to decide whether to carry a pregnancy to term or terminate it.  The law could, in theory, require women to bear these children as “one of the risks of heterosexual sex.”  Largely out of a desire to not intrude upon such important decisions as to whether to bear children, and a sense that personal autonomy is a vital component of a limited government, the law doesn’t do this.

Yet when it comes time to require fathers to support children that they did not desire to have the law shows no similar restraint.  In fact the law uses its police powers more coercively to collect child support–the amount of government resources and jail space used to enforce child support orders is shocking–than for any other type of private debt.  From a fathers’ perspective, “pregnancy support alimony” is further coercion stemming from a decision over which they have no control.

I would not be surprised to see pregnancy support become part of the legal landscape over the next decade.  From an economic standpoint requiring fathers to contribute pregnancy support seems just.  However every time the law requires fathers to contribute more support for children they did not desire to bear we erode the argument that women should have the absolute right to determine the course of their pregnancies.

A review of the excellent news reporting from Allyson Bird at the Charleston Post and Courier, regarding the adoption case involving two year-old, Veronica, her prospective adoptive parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco, and her Cherokee birth father, Dusten Brown, demonstrates a misunderstanding when a “best interests of the child” standard is applicable.  For custody cases between two biological or legal parents, such a standard is perfectly appropriate.  For custody cases between parents and non-parents, application of such a standard is frankly totalitarian.

The facts of Veronica’s case are tragic.  She was placed with the Capobiancos shortly after her birth.  Four months later Brown, a member of the Cherokee nation and an Oklahoma resident, sought a finding of paternity and custody.  After a recent trial, the family court judge, applying the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act (an act which I acknowledge knowing nothing about), ruled in Brown’s favor and ordered Veronica placed with her father.  Brown recently took Veronica from the Capobiancos to Oklahoma.  The South Carolina Supreme Court has accepted direct review of the Capobiancos’ appeal.  Meanwhile supporters of the Capobiancos hold public demonstrations and petition drives, with our state governor, Nikki Haley, telling the press, “My heart breaks for Matt and Melanie.”   Many of the commentators ask how removing a two year old from the only caregivers she has ever known and placing her with a stranger can be in the child’s “best interests,” with the implication that it cannot be.

To which I would retort, “so what?”  Or to be less flippant, “do we really want the state taking children away from their biological parents merely because it believes the child’s ‘best interests’ lie elsewhere?”   In custody battles between biological parents and third-parties, I think most of us would agree that we want to impose a high burden on the state before giving custody to third-parties.

For almost a century the United States Supreme Court has recognized that the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the United State Constitution gives parents a protected liberty interest in raising their children.  For more information on this topic, seeConstitutional Limitations On Family Court Authority To Override Parental Decision Making.”  South Carolina case law recognizes that in order to remove a child from a biological parent and place that child with a third-party, one must first prove the parent is unfit. Kay v. Rowland, 285 S.C. 516, 331 S.E.2d 781, 782 (1985).   Even when the parent tries to obtain the child back from a third-party, the courts do not employ a pure best interests standard but instead employ the four-part test set forth in Moore v. Moore, 300 S.C. 75, 386 S.E.2d 456, 458 (1989).   For more information on this topic, seeWhen Parents Seek to Reclaim Custody from Third-parties: Moore & Its Progeny.”

Most of us should be glad the courts don’t employ a best interests standard in custody battles between biological parents and third-parties.  If the courts employed such a standard, anyone who could claim to do a better job parenting then we do could, in theory, seek and obtain custody of our own children.  When my own first child was born, my wife and I were new residents of Charleston, South Carolina, and knew few people within the state.  We were both unemployed and deeply in (student loan) debt.  There were many people who were in objectively better circumstances to raise our daughter but, because we only needed to be fit parents to withstand such a challenge, we had no risk of losing custody of her to a third-party.  I suspect many first time parents are in similar situations.  It’s a good thing we don’t allow the government to always employ a best interests standard in deciding our own children’s custody.

Most Americans rightly deplore the child rearing practices of totalitarian societies in which children are seen as the property of the state and are encouraged to spy on their parents and report any parental deviation from the state orthodoxy.  We read fiction such as “Brave New World” as a dystopian warning against allowing the state, rather than parents, to raise children.  Preventing the state from imposing its own judgment of a child’s “best interests” against the wishes of a biological parent may result in occasional tragic stories such as Veronica’s (which might have been less tragic if the Capobiancos had agreed to let her live with her biological father immediately after he sought custody).  Veronica’s case might be ideal to debate the steps that a biological father of a child born out of wedlock should be required to undertake to develop his parental rights.  It might be a useful case to debate the balance between state/federal government and Indian sovereign rights.   But allowing the state carte blanche to place children wherever it wishes upon the state’s own determination of the child’s “best interests” is totalitarian social engineering.

The creation of parental rights and responsibilities for unwed fathers are hardly reciprocal.  The state, the mother, or the child’s guardian can come after an unwed father at any point to seek child support.  Age 17? Sure.  Even after the child is an adult if that child has physical or mental disabilities.  In contrast, an unwed father who fails to take action while the child is still in utero may find he lacks parental rights.

Such is the case in the May 2, 2011 decision in Roe v. Reeves, 392 S.C. 143, 708 S.E.2d 778 (2011). That appeal considered the issue of whether the Father’s consent was needed for the adoption of his newborn child.  The family court determined it was.  In a 3-2 decision, the South Carolina Supreme Court reversed, finding his consent was not required because he had failed to develop his parental rights pursuant to the requirements of S.C. Code § 63-9-310(A)(5)(b).

Reeves was not a sympathetic father.  At age 19 he impregnated a 15 year old girl (who already had another child!).  After learning of her pregnancy, he sent Mother a text message, “We dnt hav a baby jstop txtn me and sendin me pics.”  Approximately twenty-four hours later, apparently in response to another text from Mother, he texted, “Go hav an abortion or sumthn get a life stop txtn me damn.”  After learning Mother intended to place the child for adoption, he texted her, “If ur putn it w people and ur hapy then f*kn stop begin me 2 cum b there its not gna hapn.”  Less than a month later, he texted Mother, “Leav me tha f*k alone im nt gna txt u bak and I want nothng 2 do w u so jus get out mx [sic] life already.”

He had nothing further to do with Mother until approximately her fifth or sixth month of pregnancy, when he came to visit her.  Realizing that she was clearly pregnant, he asked her to stop the adoption and offered to take custody of the child after the birth.  During the next few months, while Mother vacillated on whether to go forward with the adoption, Father provided some financial support for Mother and her other child.  He even made repairs to her car, valued at $750.  However Mother, possibly on the advice of the adoption agency, refused to accept an offer of cash and Father made no further cash offers.  Meanwhile Father took steps to set up a nursery in his parents’ home (where he intended to raise the child if he was awarded custody).  There was some evidence that Mother’s vacillation regarding the adoption was a ploy to get Father to resume a romantic relationship with her.

The Roes, who were seeking to adopt the child and had provided Mother financial support during the pregnancy, were present at the hospital when Mother delivered.  Mother refused to allow Father any contact with her or the child while she was in the hospital.  The day after the child’s birth, Mother executed a consent to adoption and the Roes took the child home.

After learning this, Father filed an action for custody.  After his paternity was established, Father was ordered to pay child support and granted visitation.  At trial, the family court found Father had taken the steps necessary to develop parental rights and therefore his consent was required for the adoption.  The family court denied the adoption and awarded Father custody.  The Roes appealed.

The issue on appeal was whether Father had undertaken sufficient prompt and good faith efforts to assume parental responsibility as required by § 63-9-310(A)(5)(b).  That code subsection provides:

(A)    Consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption is required of the following persons: . . . .

(5)  the father of a child born when the father was not married to the child’s mother, if the child was placed with the prospective adoptive parents six months or less after the child’s birth, but only if:  . . . .

(b)  the father paid a fair and reasonable sum, based on the father’s financial ability, for the support of the child or for the expenses incurred in connection with the mother’s pregnancy or with the birth of the child, including, but not limited to, medical, hospital, and nursing expenses.

The standards of § 63-9-310(A)(5)(b) can be relaxed if a mother thwarts a father’s efforts to comply with this statute.  In such circumstances, when a father “undertakes sufficient prompt and good faith efforts to assume parental responsibility and to comply with the statute,” courts will still require a father’s consent to an adoption.

The majority found that Mother did not thwart Father’s efforts to comply with the statute and that Father did not comply with the requirements of § 63-9-310(A)(5)(b).  It ordered immediate custody of the child to the Roes.  In reaching this decision the majority made what I consider to be a few dubious factual conclusions.  It found that Mother did not sufficiently thwart Father’s efforts to establish a relationship with his child (what about her refusal to accept a cash payment and her refusal to allow him access to the child in the hospital?) to relax the requirements of § 63-9-310(A)(5)(b).  It found that Father’s contribution towards Mother’s and her older child’s living expenses, the repairs to her car, and the expenses he incurred in setting up a nursery, were not within the purview of § 63-9-310(A)(5)(b).   It further found that his payment of child support during the litigation did not prove he was making a reasonable contribution to the child’s expenses because he understated his income in his financial declarations and had been in arrears during the litigation.  Given Mother’s refusal to accept cash from Father, the majority’s determinations that Mother didn’t thwart Father but that these expenditures shouldn’t count strikes me as pretzel logic.

The dissent differed with the majority’s factual conclusions.  It found that Mother had thwarted Father’s efforts to support his child.  If found that Father’s contributions and attempted contributions towards Mother’s living expenses “demonstrated his willingness to develop a relationship with his child and therefore acquired constitutional protection.”

Part of the problem with these type of cases is that § 63-9-310(A)(5)(b), and similar code sections in other states, make support of the pregnant mother a proxy for demonstrating support for a father’s unborn child.  An unwed father may desire a relationship with his child without necessarily desiring, or being able, to have a relationship with the child’s mother, but the law provides such fathers no good way to demonstrate this desire other than by supporting the mother.  Given that Father demonstrated such antipathy towards Mother while attempting to demonstrate support for his child, I am not surprised that two of the three male justices sided with Father while both female justices sided against him.

In the cases of Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U. S. 645 (1972), Caban v. Mohammed, 441 U. S. 380 (1979) and Lehr v. Robertson, 463 U.S. 248 (1983), the United States Supreme Court developed constitutional protections for an unwed father’s right to create a relationship with his children.  While certain elements of Reeves’ initial behavior were reprehensible, he clearly demonstrated an interest in parenting his son months before the child was born.  To hold unwed fathers to high standards, or even average standards, to develop their parental rights would be to deny the majority of unwed fathers any right to their children (remember that half of all fathers will be “below average”).

I believe Roe v. Reeves holds Father to an unconstitutionally high standard to develop his parental rights.  Father, who has had custody of his son since trial, will now have no legal relationship with this child and may never see him again.  I hope he and his attorneys seek certiorari with the United States Supreme Court.  Such putative fathers need to consult a child custody attorney.

While nothing in the law prohibits it explicitly, I’ve never understood how attorneys can counsel their male clients to demand DNA paternity testing, especially for a child born in their marriage, while seeking joint custody of that child.  I’ve never done it and I don’t see how one can escape the logical conclusion that in seeking DNA testing the father is undermining his joint custody claim.

While mothers obviously know a child is theirs (ignoring those switched-at-birth stories that seem to keep the Lifetime network in business), until there’s DNA testing a father takes paternity on faith.  Most fathers simply accept that a child is theirs and commit to parenting that child.  I have two children, ages nine and seventeen, and if my wife announced tomorrow they weren’t biologically mine they wouldn’t stop being my children.  I would fight any request for paternity testing and, even if testing showed we were not biologically related, I would still treat them as my children.

They would remain my children (in this hypothetical scenario) not because I was biologically related to them but because I had committed to raising them as my children and, after seventeen and nine years of living up to that commitment–of me loving them and of them loving me–I would not let mere (hypothetical) cuckolding change that fact.  Most fathers I know, even those fathers who’ve not had their paternity confirmed by DNA testing, feel the same way.

On the other hand, if some old girlfriend arrived a my doorstep claiming that some (now adult) child was mine, I would demand DNA testing.  Why the distinction between the children I have raised with my wife and a child I might have conceived with an old flame: because I’ve been mentally and emotionally committed to raising my children with my wife since I learned she was pregnant and have no such commitment to a child conceived with an old girlfriend.  If the DNA testing showed this old girlfriend’s child wasn’t mine, I could walk away from a relationship with that child with no guilt or second guessing.  On the other hand, I wouldn’t be seeking joint custody of that child if the DNA testing confirmed paternity.

That’s the thought process which, in my mind, makes seeking paternity testing antithetical to seeking joint custody.  One seeks paternity testing because one is willing to walk away from a child if that child isn’t biologically related–and one shouldn’t seek joint custody of a child one is willing to walk away from.  In this regard women have men at a disadvantage.  As an old Calypso song goes, “mommy’s baby; daddy’s maybe.”  But if daddy takes the position that “baby is maybe,” I don’t see how daddy can justify seeking joint custody.

Put Mr. Forman’s experience, knowledge, and dedication to your service for any of your South Carolina family law needs.

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