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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Paternity Issues

Term Definition Paternity Issues - normally a question of the liability of men who become fathers when they do not intend to become fathers.
Application in Divorce Some paternity issues that may seem novel to the parties involved are actually settled law. For example, a woman’s fraudulent claims about birth control (or claims of infertility) do not shield a man from support obligations in the event of pregnancy. Moreover, a woman may unilaterally refuse to obtain an abortion.

Courts have universally decided that a man’s allegations that a woman deceived him (about fertility and the use of birth control) are completely irrelevant to questions of paternity and support, and are not the basis for any tort.

Courts have held that a man is, as one legal observer puts it, "strictly liable for where his sperm ends up when he voluntarily engages in a sexual act." This doctrine of strict liability emanates from cases where men voluntarily impregnate women at their request.

A man cannot enter into consent agreement with a woman to impregnate her, and then contend that he is but a sperm donor without a responsibility to support the child. Nor can the woman who becomes pregnant as a result of such an agreement waive child support. Courts have ruled that, outside of the jurisdiction’s statute on artificial insemination, a man cannot waive his parental rights (or the responsibility of child support), nor can a mother. To do so goes against public policy.

The biological fathers of children conceived by donor artificial insemination are not liable if the insemination is genuinely artificial and meets the requirements of the Uniform Status of Children of Assisted Conception Act. This means that the insemination must be truly artificial ("the delivery system for the sperm is a syringe and not a penis," as one lawyer put it). Conceptions outside these parameters, however, mean that the father is still liable for support and is entitled for an order of filiation, that is, to be named father of the child; and the mother may seek child support.

See Uniform Status of Children of Assisted Conception Act.

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