Paternity Law: Splitting Twins Up In Child Custody Agreements

paternity lawQuestion:

I have a very unique and complex paternity law case and am wondering how child custody laws apply. I am the biological father of one twin girl and another man is the biological father of the other twin girl.

I would like to gain child custody of my child. The court is telling me I would have to take both twin girls when only one is biologically mine, and the mother already relinquished her parental rights but the courts awarded custody to the grandmother without ever notifying me!

What are my options to get custody of just my biological child?

Answer:

I am not licensed in your state so I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, as to the approach most courts apply when considering a modification of custody action.

In most jurisdictions, if a child is born out of wedlock, a father will not need to take two procedural steps to obtain custody of his child. He must first establish himself as the legal father of the child (in my jurisdiction we refer to this as “legitimation”), and then he may petition the court for visitation rights and/or custody of his child.

You state that your child’s grandmother was awarded custody of your child without any notification provided to you. You may not have been provided notification of the change in custody if you never legitimized your child (or established yourself as the child’s legal father).

Typically, a positive paternity test does not automatically grant you legal rights to your child.  If the child was not born during a lawful marriage, then you will probably need to obtain a court order establishing yourself as the child’s legal father.

After you receive an order from the court “legitimizing” your child, then the law in most jurisdictions would require that you are notified of any action pertaining to custody of your child.

While your jurisdiction may not refer to this type of case as a Legitimation action, in all likelihood you will have to file a similar action in your state prior to obtaining custody of your child.

With respect to your desire to obtain custody of your daughter: while you may have heard that the courts would prefer if you take both of the children, rather than just your daughter, it’s unlikely that they would require you to do so.

What you may have heard is that courts are reluctant to divide the children, especially if they have been living together since their birth. In this case, given that the children are twins, the may be even more reluctant to split them apart, given the bond that twins often have.

If you elect to move forward with a petition to change custody of your daughter, however, most jurisdictions the courts will apply the best interest of the child standard when determining whether to modify custody.

This is generally a very broad standard which grants the court substantial authority to make their own determination, based on the evidence and facts presented to them, as to what is in the children’s best interest.  In your case, it’s unlikely that there is anything prohibiting you from petitioning the court to obtain custody of your child.

In order to obtain a successful result, however, you will need to show that having your daughter reside with you, and not with her sister and grandmother, is in her best interests.

Since the courts are typically vested with substantial authority to determine what is in the best interest of the child, it is probably a good idea to seek the advice of a local attorney so that you can prepare yourself to persuade the court that it is in your child’s best interest to grant you custody of your daughter.

I have only provided you with general legal information. For a more in-depth answer and financial advice on divorce, you should contact a family law attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

Cordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers located nationwide. To schedule an appointment with a divorce attorney, including Kevin Mammola, an Associate Attorney in the Atlanta, Georgia, office, please contact Cordell & Cordell.

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One comment on “Paternity Law: Splitting Twins Up In Child Custody Agreements

    I have been cleared by police in interview of hitting one of my twin sons as he has been domestically abusing me, he is just 11 and his twin is disabled, my daughter as teenager reported me to social services and the case was closed . They have used that against me and he’s living with dad , and said he’s got a right to choose where he lives . He’s dad is exercising his parental responsibility of him as he said that he doesn’t have a clue to look after disabled son . My disabled son was taken into care also and within 2 hours they rang me to come and get him, I was monitored for 24 hours a day with him for a month , I didn’t think it fair on my disabled son as he’s always been with me and his brother is this legal as my son is missing his brother very much and he’s non verbal and it’s effecting him this has been going on 8 weeks.

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