Paternity actions can often provide important information to families and children.
Former basketball great and NBA owner Michael Jordan, who has a home in south Florida and recently filed for a marriage license in Florida, is facing a paternity suit in a neighboring state. Jordan has requested that the paternity lawsuit against him be dismissed. Jordan and his lawyer claim that the paternity of the 16-year old boy the subject of the suit was established ten years ago in the divorce between the boy’s mother, who is now bringing the paternity suit against Jordan, and her ex-husband. Jordan has also filed a counterclaim seeking sanctions for what he describes as paternity fraud allegations made against him. The woman is requesting that Jordan take a paternity test, pay child support and share in medical costs not covered by insurance. She is also requesting a re-issued birth certificate reflecting the alleged paternity and that the boy’s last name be changed. The boy has posted a YouTube video stating that Jordan is his father and that he wants him to play a more substantial role in his life.
Either a mother, alleged father or, in some cases, a child, can bring a paternity suit. The judge in a paternity suit can order DNA testing to determine if the alleged father is the father of the child. Sometimes paternity actions are brought for child support purposes but they may be brought for other reasons as well. In some cases a man other than the biological father of a child can be designated as the father of a child. Once paternity is established it can be difficult to change and paternity typically carries with it the obligation to pay child support.
In addition to the requirement that the father pay child support following the establishment of a paternity through a paternity test, the father also gains some fathers’ rights which include visitation and the right to pursue custody of the child. In some circumstances, this could lead to a request for visitation or a custody issue. There are several legal categories of father, including acknowledged, presumed, equitable and unwed. Each carries with it individual requirements and legal rights.
Paternity can have emotional, and even economic, implications. It is an important step that many families may decide to take.
Source: South Florida Times, “Michael Jordan wants paternity lawsuit dismissed,” Kate Brumback et al., Mar. 7, 2013