Mom who’s my Father?: Dual Paternity in Louisiana

23 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2022

See all articles by Precious Anderson

Precious Anderson

Southern University Law Center, Southern University Law Review

Date Written: March 12, 2022

Abstract

The concept of dual paternity was first enacted in Louisiana in the Louisiana Supreme Court case Warren v. Richard, which was decided in 1974. Dual paternity occurs when a child has two legal fathers; the first is his legally presumed father, who is married to his mother at the time of his birth, and the second is his biological father. Louisiana’s codification of dual paternity was significant because it made Louisiana the first and only state to recognize it. In 2015, 41 years after Warren, the Louisiana Supreme Court attempted unsuccessfully to clarify the issue of child support in a dual-paternity case in Department of Children & Family Services v. Lowrie. The court made it clear that a biological father was a necessary party to an action for child support in a dual-paternity situation. However, it failed to develop a framework for lower courts to determine how exactly the biological father's income should be considered. Lower courts will continue to issue inconsistent support payments across the state without the legal framework.

The Louisiana Supreme Court has yet to address the issue of child custody and visitation in a dual-paternity case. This issue will create more chaos for dual-paternity situations because the courts have no framework to apply when deciding these cases. Furthermore, it may not be in the child’s best interest to divide time between three parents.

The issue of dual paternity could be fixed. The author suggests that Louisiana adopt the laws of other states, such as Florida and New Hampshire. In those states, the issue of dual paternity is not a problem because once a biological father is established, the legal father then becomes the stepfather. This essentially creates an automatic rebuttal of the paternity presumption, where the mother’s husband is presumed to be the father of any children born during the marriage or within 300 days of the divorce. With this solution, child support or custody and visitation for a child with two fathers is no longer an issue because children will no longer have two legal fathers.

Keywords: Dual-paternity, filiation, biological and legal father, presumption of paternity, child custody, visitation, Department of Children & Family Services v. Lowrie

JEL Classification: A00, K36

Suggested Citation

Anderson, Precious, Mom who’s my Father?: Dual Paternity in Louisiana (March 12, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4056149 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4056149

Precious Anderson (Contact Author)

Southern University Law Center, Southern University Law Review ( email )

2 Roosevelt Steptoe Dr.
Baton Rouge, LA 70813
United States

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