Having substantial assets is a double-edged sword. In many ways, it makes life much easier. Sometimes, however, it creates more complexity.
This is often the case in a divorce. All divorces come with challenges. Rich or poor, there are many legal hurdles and roadblocks. When you have a high net worth, however, these problems can intensify.
Paternity is the legal term for fatherhood. Fathers need paperwork before they can have legal rights to their child, regardless of biology. Sometimes, there are disagreements about paternity, requiring legal intervention.
Defining Paternity Disputes
A paternity dispute refers to a legal disagreement over a man’s fatherhood. Generally, conflict arises when someone denies or doubts the biological relationship between father and child.
These disagreements are not, however, limited to biology. They can also apply to adopted children, where one wishes to challenge legal fatherhood.
The Challenges of These Disputes in High Net Worth Divorces
All paternity disputes involve complex legalities. When you are well off, the situation becomes more convoluted. Your paternal status can affect property division, child support, and custody arrangements.
Positive results can directly impact someone’s financial future. Consider these scenarios:
- A man has an estate plan for his child, only to discover he is not the father.
- A man wants paternity, and he is planning his financial future around his child. The mother, however, is working overtime to block the man’s legal fatherhood.
- A woman claims that someone is her child’s father. This man is not interested in fatherhood and has no prior connection to the child. Results prove he is the father, significantly altering the future of his estate.
Additionally, there may be technological challenges. For instance, establishing paternity often requires DNA testing. Such testing involves collecting and analyzing personal genetic information. Performing such a test creates privacy concerns. Since this is a legal dispute, your results could become part of the public record. This raises serious security concerns about the potential misuse of information.
Financial Considerations for Paternity Disputes
Fighting for or against a paternity claim is costly.
Expenses can include:
- Legal fees
- Civil damages
- Child support payments
- DNA testing for both the father and the child
Litigation Strategies for Addressing Paternity Disputes
This is the primary method for establishing or disproving paternity. It can provide conclusive evidence and is commonly accepted in court proceedings.
In some jurisdictions, there are legal presumptions regarding paternity. For instance, when a married woman has a child, the law generally assumes her husband is the father. This is true regardless of the child’s true origins. Challenging or affirming these presumptions can be a key part of your litigation strategy.
Expert witnesses, such as geneticists or forensic scientists, can testify about the scientific aspects of determining paternity. Their expertise can help support or challenge the evidence presented.
Collecting relevant evidence, such as communication records, witness testimonies, or financial documents, can strengthen one's position in a paternity dispute. This evidence can be crucial in establishing or disproving claims.
Negotiation and Mediation
In some cases, parties may engage in negotiation or mediation, reaching a paternity agreement outside of court. This can be a more collaborative and less adversarial approach.
Mitigating Paternity Issues
Amid a paternity dispute, financial concerns can quickly stack up and create a complicated situation. You must address these concerns head-on and seek legal guidance.
Child support payments are a key factor. They can place a significant strain on all parties involved. Fortunately, child support is based on the incomes of both parents. Work closely with your attorney to make sure there is an accurate representation of these incomes.
Other financial matters, such as property division and parental rights, may also come into play. Your best defense is a good offense, whether you are trying to prove or disprove paternity. Develop a strategy with your attorney beforehand, and prepare for any abrupt twists during proceedings.
Analyze Prior Case Studies
Our legal system relies heavily on precedent. If a court rules on a matter a certain way, lawyers and judges use those rulings to help guide their cases later.
Analyzing case studies provides valuable insight into how the law has handled similar paternity disputes. By carefully reading and researching such cases, you can understand how different approaches resolved cases like yours. Bring what you’ve learned to your lawyer. Together, you can use this information as a strategy guide for your case.
Russell S. Hershkowitz, L.L.C. can stand by your side in a paternity dispute. We can help you work toward the outcome you desire, and we can help guide your next steps if your dispute ends in a surprise. No situation is hopeless, so let us step in and work for you today. Contact us online or call us at (407) 753-4111.