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Courts issue differing opinions in complicated paternity case

What if, when you were a teenager, your parents came to you and told you that the man who you had thought was your father for your whole life was actually not biologically related to you? And that your actual father was someone with whom your mother had had a years-long affair around the time that you were born? Would you be able to handle this news? Or do you think it would cause you lasting psychological damage?

These questions are the focus of a long series of custody and visitation cases that began with a positive DNA paternity test about 13 years ago. According to court documents, a married woman became pregnant about halfway through a five-year affair with a married man. The couple split about two years after the boy was born, and the woman soon told her husband about the affair.

After learning that his son may not actually be his, the husband filed to adopt the child. Around the same time, the biological father filed a paternity case with the family court, and a subsequent DNA test confirmed that he was the boy’s father. But the mother blocked the father’s efforts to establish a relationship with the boy, alleging that he would suffer irreparable harm if he learned that who he thought was his father was, in fact, not.

Recently, after several differing court rulings over the past decade, a court ruled in favor of the mother, ordering that to tell the bow 16-year-old boy the truth would “seriously endanger” him and denying the biological father’s request for visitation. But when the boy turns 18 in two years, the court will no longer has jurisdiction over the issue, and he will likely learn the truth then.

What do you think of this unusual case? Should the boy be told about his true parentage?

Source: Chicago Tribune, “In paternity dispute, family can withhold biological father’s identity from teen, court rules,” Steve Schmadeke, Jan. 2, 2012

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