PATERNITY AND MARITAL STATUS
Proud parents, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Lauren Hashian welcomed their first child, a baby girl, whom they named Jasmine, into the world last month. All parties are happy and healthy and Johnson has indicated this is the best Christmas present he has ever received! As the parties are not married, are Johnson’s parental rights to baby Jasmine in any way adversely affected by his marital status to the baby’s mother?
The easiest answer to this question is no, not at all. Parents are parents no matter what their marital status is to each other. In fact, regardless of a baby’s biology, if the parents of a child are married to each other, there is a presumption that the child they bring into the world is a product of their marriage, establishing de facto parentage. This is known as a rebuttable presumption. The purpose of this presumption is to preserve and protect the sanctity of the family unit.
If the parents of the child are not married, there is no rebuttable presumption that the child is a product of the marriage, and therefore, the father may need to participate in a paternity test in order to confirm his status as father. Once the test is performed, which consists of the swabbing of the epithelial cells of one’s cheek and comparing them to the mother and baby’s cells, paternity will be determined.
With paternity comes the obligation to financially support the baby, as well as, the right to exercise custodial rights over the baby. The only way to sever the parent/child relationship is through the termination of parental rights and adoption. Both of these actions eliminate the rights and obligations of the birth parent and transfer them to a third party.