Shondel J.v.Mark D.

46opn06.pdf

He who acts like a father, is a father — if not biologically than at least legally — the Court of Appeals held in a 5-2 decision imposing “equitable paternity” on a man who wrongly assumed he had fathered a child and acted accordingly.

The father argued that the imposition of “equitable paternity” effectively saddled him with an involuntary adoption,the Court instead focused on the best interests of the child, citing the “potential damage to a child’s psyche caused by suddenly ending established parental support need only be stated to be appreciated. Cutting off that support, whether emotional or financial, may leave the child in a worse position than if that support had never been given.”The issue does not involve the equities between the two adults; the case turns exclusively on the best interests of the child,” Judge Rosenblatt wrote. “The Legislature did not create an exception for men who take on the role of fatherhood based on the mother’s misrepresentation … [T]he mother’s motivation and honesty are irrelevant…”

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