A Court of Appeals recently ruled that a teen around the age of 16 will not learn who his biological father is until he is 18 years old. As of now, the teenager believes that the man who raised him, and is married to his mother, is his biological father. But, the truth is that he was conceived when his mother was having on ongoing affair, and highlights the importance for a father to ask for a paternity test early on.
The entire case goes back to almost 20 years ago. At the time, the woman was cheating on her husband, and ended up getting pregnant with another man’s baby. The affair continued on until the boy was two, when the two split. Afterwards the mother reportedly told her husband the truth about what had happened. Her husband decided to not only stick with her and continue to raise the other children the couple has, but to also legally adopt the son who he once believed was his.
However, that adoption was put on hold when the actual biological father filed a paternity case wanting visitation with his son. At this point the boy was around the age of 3.
Since then, the case has gone through five appellate court rulings, and one Supreme Court ruling. Now, with this most recent ruling, the appeals court has upheld an earlier judge’s decision to deny the biological father visitation rights. The idea is that learning the truth now would seriously hurt the teen.
In general, experts are claiming this entire lengthy case is highly unusual. However, it does highlight the importance for men to establish paternity early on to better protect their rights as a parent. In this case, who knows, maybe if the biological father had filed a paternity case right after the child was born, maybe he would have been granted those visitation rights?
Source: Chicago Tribune, “In paternity dispute, family can withhold biological father’s identity from teen, court rules,” Steve Schmadeke, Jan. 2, 2012