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Ten Point Maryland Custody Battle Checklist #1: Paperwork on Paternity

The first item in a ten(10) point checklist for a child custody or access case in the State of Maryland is having all the available paperwork surrounding parentage.

Get as much paperwork surrounding paternity that you can, as soon as you can. The birth certificate, the affidavit of parentage filled out at the hospital, letters, emails etc.

Paternity is an issue in more cases than you probably imagine.

It’s occasionally an actual question but, more often than not, it’s an issue of control, revenge, manipulation and money. Please note that I usually strive to make my allegories gender neutral, there has never been a reported dispute as to maternity.

This is an important time to point out that: if a mother is married as of the child’s birth, the man to whom she is married is legally presumed to be the father. Thus, for married people, the paper work is easier. Married? Child born? equals paternity, the end. Yes, even if there has been no biological basis to believe husband is the father.

Birth Certificates

Let’s start with the motive that’s easiest to quantify and measure regarding disputes of paternity: Money. Much of the time, paternity is an issue in controversy because of money ie. Child Support.

Father’s will sometimes dispute paternity of a child, whom they know is their child, just to buy time in a child support case. The net result may mean they be ordered to pay for the genetic testing as well as support.

I am sure in some cases, mothers may point to a financially stable man as the putative father for similar reasons, though I have not personally come across that. In any event, disputing paternity for purposes of delaying child support is a largely unsuccessful tactic.

The financial circumstances surrounding paternity can bring out the worst in people yet, as often as not, I have also seen other emotional and circumstantial issues that trigger a paternity dispute. Take for example, a single mother whose former boyfriend left her for another girl.

The woman falls to pieces at the very thought that the “other woman” will be spending time with her child. Not because she knows the lady at all, but just because she is the “other woman.” Since they were never married, the mother may raise paternity as an issue to prevent, or at least delay, the ex-boyfriend from getting any time with the child.

There are other emotional and circumstantial reasons that unmarried mothers sometimes dispute paternity. I often observe that this is a pattern in younger women, so I sometimes think maturity is an issue. There is also a hormonal roller coaster associated with motherhood and of that I cannot begin to appreciate.

While underhanded, disputing paternity is a very, very effective tool of delay for a single mother embroiled in a visitation or custody case.

Tim Conlon, Esquire for The Custody Place


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