My wife and I are filing for divorce. She has some serious drug issues and I do not feel she is fit to take care of our daughter.
However, she keeps threatening to get a paternity order. Although I am not the biological father, I have been involved in the girl’s life since she was born and love her very much.
Does my wife have a case against me and can she actually have her taken away?
I am not licensed to practice law in your state. Therefore, I cannot inform you as to the specific laws of your state and can only provide you with general information concerning child custody and paternity.
In the State of Utah, where I am licensed to practice, when a child is born to a woman, that woman’s husband is presumed to be the father of the child. The husband has all of the legal rights and responsibilities of fatherhood until something changes that.
The question in your case is what happened when your daughter was born? Was your name put on the birth certificate by virtue of your marriage to the mother? Or did the two of you admit that the child was not biologically yours?
If that is the case, did the hospital staff have you sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity in order to get your name on the birth certificate? These are all things that will factor into what your rights are and what rights you have to your daughter in a divorce action.
The outcome of your case will also depend on how long you have been married. The longer you have been acting as this young girl’s father, the more the court may be persuaded to give you custody of her so that she is not separated from her siblings and if the court feels that the custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child(ren).
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than general child custody tips, so please consult a domestic litigation attorney in your area to obtain specific advice as to how the laws in Utah impact your specific circumstances.