She says it’s my kid but it sure doesn’t look like me; what can I do about it?

Well, you had better act fast. The very first thing you should do is call me because you definitely need an attorney.

What you would need to do is to immediately file a petition for paternity – if you are not married. If the child is still an infant, then you will likely be able to have genetic testing done to determine if you are in fact the child’s father. If you are married, then you obviously want to have genetic testing done as soon as possible because, otherwise, there is a presumption of legitimacy with regard to children who are born to a married couple.

However, maybe you’ve waited until the child is now a toddler or old enough to go to school. Well, if so, now you have a real problem. And that problem is called equitable estoppel. Yes, I know it’s a mouthful. It is a legal doctrine which, here, basically means that if you have neglected to ask for a paternity test, and a significant amount of time has gone by, and another party (in this particular case, the child in question) has come to rely on facts that have been created by your inaction over this significant amount of time, then you are very likely going to be precluded from having any genetic testing ordered by any court. In fact, the court could even order you NOT to have genetic testing done.

Why?

Well, put yourself in the child’s place and try to see things from the child’s perspective. The child is growing up and the child needs a father. Whether or not you are the father, if the child bonds to you as the child’s father and you do NOT tell the child that you are NOT his/her father, then the child really doesn’t give a damn whether or not you are his/her biological father; the child merely assumes that you are. And since you haven’t denied it, the law will therefore assume that you are as well. Otherwise, why the hell are you in this child’s life in the first place?

There are lots of exceptions to this rule and many factors come into play. Frankly, whole books have been written on equitable estoppel as it pertains to paternity.

However, common sense dictates that the bottomline in situations like this is to act immediately (or as soon as possible) upon learning of the likelihood that the child is NOT yours. If someone tells you that the child is yours and you do not act to deny that the child is yours, then, whether you like it or not – the child is yours!

If you have any doubt in your mind whatsoever, you must act on it as quickly as possible – or forever hold your peace.

Lastly, I will note that there is one extremely good reason for you to act quickly on something like this: if that child is deemed to be yours, then you are on the hook for child support until that child turns 21. THAT should wake you up to your rights. There is not much in this world that is more painful than to have to pay child support to a woman for 21 years for a child that is not yours.

So, call me: I can help you.

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