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Potentially disruptive paternity disputes must be taken seriously

For the most part, when a married couple in Michigan has a child, the husband is presumed to be the father of the child. But there are always exceptions to this rule and where short marriages or extramarital affairs are involved, the usual presumption of paternity may not be accurate. And not all paternity disputes occur when the children are at a young age. Sometimes paternity can be called into question with older children, even adult children.

There recently was an interesting paternity situation involving a U.S. Congressman. The lawmaker learned that he might have a 25-year-old daughter after he Googled the girl's mother and realized that she had a daughter who had been born around the right amount of time after the two had a romantic relationship. Another man, the girl's real father, said he was completely blindsided by the paternity allegations. The man was married to the girl's mother from 1985 to 1989 and their daughter was born in 1988, during the marriage.

In order to remove any question, paternity tests were administered and revealed that the man who raised her, not the congressman, was the girl's biological father. The young woman was apparently sworn to secrecy during this time of her possible connection with the U.S. lawmaker. Her father was shocked to find out that his ex-wife and daughter even knew the congressman, much less harbored such a potentially life-changing piece of information. But the man says he wasn't surprised with the test results and that he knew all along the young girl was his daughter.

This story is an excellent example of how disputes over paternity and related allegations can potentially disrupt a family. Especially when minor children are involved, the outcome of a test can have enormous implications, including child custody and child support determinations. If paternity is ever an issue for a Michigan parent or family, it may be wise to speak with a family law attorney to ensure that proper procedures are followed and that the best interests of the children and family are always at the forefront of the discussion.

Source: Politico, "Rep. Steve Cohen's paternity claim 'rocked' real dad," Hadas Gold, July 18, 2013

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