David, a client, called me one afternoon recently. He was in shock. Sharon, a woman he had unwisely had a short sexual liaison with a year previously, had called him; she had given birth to a child and identified David as the father. He was now engaged to be married to another woman. What should he do?
Here is a brief summary of what I told David:
1. This issue will not simply ‘go away’. Accept responsibility for dealing with it in a mature, honourable way.
2. That being said, do not share the news with anybody else at this stage.
3. Be sensitive to the needs and emotional state of Sharon, the mother of the child. Maintain a cordial relationship with her. Do not see her claim as aggressive – she is a mother, alone. Pay her some respect.
4. One of the essentials, in the best interests of the child, is a DNA test. Arrange one as soon as possible. You must pay for it – about R4200 for all three of you. You will have to attend the lab together, with mother and child. Take original ID books and child’s birth certificate. The result will take about 4 weeks.
5. If you are excluded as the father, tell her. You have a claim for the cost of the test, plus anything else you paid for on the basis of her wrongful claim. Can she afford to pay? If not, let it go – if you sue, the matter becomes one of public record.
6. If you are identified as the father, think very carefully – you have a huge responsibility to the child, the mother and to society. A rejected child could grow up to be a misfit. If you embrace this opportunity to help construct a successful life, you may struggle, but you will have done the right thing and who knows – maybe your child will be a leader of the country, one day.
7. Have contact with the child. Contribute to parenting. The child will benefit in proportion to your commitment. So will you.
8. Maintenance is a big topic and will be one of the main reasons for ongoing contact between you and Sharon. You both need to understand this topic and to deal with it as well as you can.
See me for detailed advice.
Roger Knowles Attorney
11 June 2018
Family Law Specialist lawyers and mediators; Divorce; Parents & Children; Grandparents; Cohabitation; Curators; Maintenance; International Divorce; Domestic Violence and more.