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When trying to fight for fathers' rights, paternity plays a role

Sometimes when a couple gets divorced, there are some unpleasant surprises that can come up. One particular issue that can arise when trying to agree on custody and support terms is paternity.

Paternity determines who a child's father actually is. In some divorce proceedings, a father who is fighting for child custody may request a paternity test to confirm that the child is in fact his. This can also come up if a man believes someone else's child is his, is seeking custody and wants to find out for sure whether he fathered the child. 

This type of issue can also come up regardless of whether a couple is going through a divorce. One father realized last year that one of his children was actually not his. It appears that his wife had an affair with a priest; a paternity test confirmed that the child was actually the priest's. It is unclear whether the priest is requesting any visitation time with his son.

While this is a very specific instance, it does raise some questions about what rights a man does have if he finds out he is a father. Can he seek custody? Will he be allowed to spend time with his children?

In Tennessee and in many other states, courts will look at what is in the best interests of the child. In some instances it may be beneficial for the child to spend time with his or her biological father, even if that father has been absent for some time. If that is the case, the court will encourage the parents to come up with an appropriate visitation or co-parenting plan.

Source: Courthouse News Service: "Priest Sued After Affair Makes Him a Dad," Joe Harris, Sept. 28, 2011

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