Do I need to sign papers rendering my rights to a child that is not mine but was conceived by another man while we were separated?
1 Answer from Attorneys
When a child is conceived during a marriage – even if the divorce is finalized prior to the birth – the husband, not the biological father, is considered to be the legal father of the child. This has far reaching effects.
You are the “legal father” and will be legally responsible to provide financial support to the mother for the child.The child will inherit from you, the husband – not the biological father – and the husband will inherit from the child in the event of one of their deaths.
The legal process to establish paternity in South Carolina requires a lawsuit to be filed in Family Court with the mother, legal father and the assumed biological father as parties. SC Code §63-17-10(E) requires a Guardian ad Litem to be appointed to represent the child. Paternity can be established by providing evidence of genetic testing, a signed voluntary acknowledgement of paternity, or a birth certificate signed by the mother and the putative father. The Court can even go as far as “viewing” the child looking for evidence of physical features that might help identify the father.
Upon reaching a determination of paternity, the Family Court can order that the biological father be listed on the child’s birth certificate, order the biological father to be responsible for financial support for the child, and can free the original legal father from any further legal responsibility for the child.