Hubby’s Daddy If He Says He’s Daddy

When a child is born during marriage, the husband of the mother is presumed to be the father of that child. And if the husband persists in claiming his paternity, no one has standing to dispute that paternity, not even the mother, and not even if she can prove conclusively that he is not the biological father. That’s the holding from the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals in the case of Cravens v. Cravens, Case No. 2040004 (Ala. Civ. App. September 9, 2005).

The parties in the case were married in August 2000, and the wife gave birth to the child a couple of months later. In a subsequent divorce proceeding, the mother challenged the husband’s claim to custody by producing DNA evidence that the husband was not the child’s father.

Anybody can do the math and determine that the child was conceived before the marriage, but that’s not what counts. What counts is the Alabama Uniform Parentage Act (AUPA), codified at Ala. Code § 26-17-1 et seq. (“Et seq.” means “and following.”). § 26-17-1(a)(1) says that “A man is presumed to be the natural father of a child if . . . he and the child’s natural mother are or have been married to each other and the child is born during the marriage . . . ”

It’s already settled that an alleged biological father lacks standing to challenge a child’s paternity if that child’s presumptive father persistently asserts his paternity. Ex parte C.A.P., 683 So. 2d 1010 (Ala. 1996). Ditto the mother in a post-divorce action. Hooten v. Hooten, 754 So. 2d 634 (Ala. Civ. App. 1999). This case now extends that principle and holds that, even in the divorce case itself (that is, even when there has been no prior adjudication involving paternity), “no one, including the mother of the child, has standing to challenge a presumed father’s paternity as long as the presumed father persists in claiming paternity of the child.”

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