These days, family dynamics are more complicated than ever. Spouses in same-sex marriages may raise a child parented by someone outside the marriage. More people are warming to the idea of polyamory, where more than two people have a relationship, and they have a child with someone other than their spouse.
There are, of course, also situations of betrayal where someone has a child from an affair, or maybe a pregnant person abruptly marries someone other than the father.
If you have a child with someone who is legally married to someone else, here is a broad exploration of your rights.
Paternity and Maternity
“Paternity” is the term for a legal father, and “maternity” is the name given to legal motherhood. Regardless of your family dynamic, if you have legal parenthood, you are protected. You have all the rights as any parent.
Generally, maternity is automatic. There is no question as to whether someone is the mother of a baby, and they can instantly sign a birth certificate.
Paternity is a bit more complicated. When a woman is married, her husband can usually sign the birth certificate of a new baby. The law generally doesn’t question him, even if he is not the biological father.
In these scenarios, the biological father must fight for his rights. He must appeal to the court and prove two things:
- He is, in fact, the biological father.
- Being the legal father is in the child’s best interests.
Fathers in this situation will need a good attorney by their side. Simply collecting the correct DNA evidence can be a hassle. Furthermore, the lawyer must build a strong argument for the child’s best interests.
It’s becoming increasingly common for same-sex couples to seek outside help to bear a child. Moreover, it’s also not unusual for that outside party to remain involved.
In these situations, you can usually expect the law to allow biological parents to have full legal parenthood. The same-sex partner in the marriage generally becomes a legal stepparent.
There are, however, more states allowing “tri-parenting,” allowing more than two people to become legal parents. It’s easier to receive this status when the baby is new, and all parties agree. Doing so still requires a strong legal argument and the services of a good attorney.
Struggles with Older Children
If a parent wants legal parenthood later in the child’s life, they will face more complications. The court isn’t as concerned with biology as they are with the health of the child. When the child is already settled in a safe, nourishing environment, the court can see an outsider as a threat to that stability.
These complications grow worse when the legal parents actively attempt to block this other parent’s paternity or maternity. In these cases, having an attorney is necessary. They must build a case from the ground up for this parent’s rights.
If the legal parents are unfit, the attorney must use evidence, witnesses, and so on to prove this fact. If the parents are stable, then the lawyer must take a different approach. They must prove to the court that the outside parent’s inclusion is what’s best for the child.
The Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw, PLC is here to help defend a parent’s rights. If you need help, contact our office now by calling (515) 200-7571 or filling out our online contact form.