Men Are Strictly Liable

Unlike maternity, which is never in uncertain from a legal standpoint, paternity can become very much an issue in dispute, particularly by a man who finds himself on the cusp of unsought and unwelcome fatherhood. In all jurisdictions, courts hold men to a strict liability for a child that results from their union. A man cannot claim that he is but a contractor if he impregnates a woman at her request and then argue that he is without a responsibility to support the child. Despite the number of men who attempt to argue along this line, courts have consistently held that a man is responsible for the child.

Parents cannot agree to construct a family in a way that relieves one of them — the father — of child support obligation. Nor can the woman who becomes pregnant in this routine waive child support as an inducement for the man to cooperate. Courts have ruled that, outside of the jurisdiction’s statute on artificial insemination, a man cannot waive his parental rights (or the responsibility of child support), nor can a mother.

Moreover, a man cannot escape his responsibilities by claiming that his partner misrepresented her use of birth control or even her own fertility. Courts have universally held that a father’s allegation of the mother’s deception is completely irrelevant to issues of paternity and child support.

Usually biological paternity can be imposed by a court on a man who has no biological ties to the child when a man has presented himself to the world as the father of a child.

The question of paternity may give rise to a paternity suit, which is a legal action to determine whether a man is the father of a child born out of wedlock. The purpose of this action is to enforce support obligations.

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