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"DE FACTO PARENTHOOD" AND CHILD CUSTODY ISSUES: A REAL LIFE EXAMPLE

Over the weekend, Tim got an email from a fellow attorney about a family member who needed help with a complicated child custody matter.

The client has a two year old little girl. He and Mom are not together, but Dad has been actively involved in the child's upbringing. Dad was there for the child's birth, his name is on the birth certificate, and the child has his last name. Dad pays child support and the child spends three days per week with him.

Two weeks ago, Mom and Dad got into an argument about visitation. The next thing you know, Mom says the child is not his and suggests that the child was actually fathered by some guy the child has never met. That person had been described by mother in the past as a 'heroin addict.'

For her entire life this child has known only one guy as "Daddy."

Tim Met with the Client on Monday

On Tuesday, Tim had a contested hearing wherein he was taking expert testimony from a doctor in a complicated DCYF matter. After a briefing from Tim, Angie prepared the necessary pleadings and met with the client first-thing Tuesday morning. Over lunch, Tim finalized the documents. The client approved them and Attorney Tracy Hermann went to Court on Tuesday afternoon to file the pleadings and get an emergency order signed.

Mom Was Served with the Order Tuesday Night

In less than 24 hours we were able to get a temporary order pending hearing that prohibits Mom from interfering with Dad's visitation, restrains Mom from removing the child from the state, and bars her from discussing the matter with the child or allowing her have any contact with the man she now alleges is "Dad."

The parties are due in Court in two weeks, so the Court can begin to sort out what, if anything should be done in the event mother persists in challenging paternity. Interestingly there is law supporting the concept of 'de facto' parenthood - the notion that if you have treated a person as parent they are legally entitled to be the parent, irrespective of their biological status.

On Wednesday morning we backed up dad's phone capturing hundreds of happy photos of him and the child, evidence which may be useful in supporting the claim of de facto parenthood in this case. We hope to report on a successful outcome to the case soon.

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TJC • ESQ

TJC • ESQ
76 Westminster Street, Suite 420
Providence, RI 02903

Phone: 401-400-4254
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