Is there a statute of limitations to establish paternity? 6 Answers as of November 07, 2013

I am the non-biological, yet legally established father of a five year old girl. I signed the AOP, am on the birth certificate, and the child has been in my care for the entirety of her life (Mother and I's relationship ended prior to 1st birthday, we were not wed). In May of this year the mother voluntarily signed an agreement making me the custodial parent and herself the possessor, she even waived her rights in the case proceedings. The mother has a history of drug and alcohol abuse (unfortunately none documented), mental illness, and domestic violence (documented, she physically assaulted her current fiancee with her two younger children present). The domestic violence charge has led to CPS involvement and she is currently being investigated (but by all accounts doing well at the moment). My daughter and I may not look alike, but I have devoted every fiber of my being to her. Mommy has recently threatened to file suit against me in an attempt to take "her" child back. The only advantage I see her having over myself is that paternity "trump card". Now, does my legal establishment super-cede the rights of an unknown (by me, maybe to her) biological father? Should I fear that "trump card" and is it a basis of reason for a court to take my daughter away? This "mommy" has been known to go M.I.A. for months at a time. I've been a constant presence in the girls life, I've recently married (snagged her the greatest step mommy the world will ever know), and together we're about as "Norman Rockwell" as a family could be. A lot of time and money has been spent on these proceedings already... I'm really hoping I'm stressing over nothing, but it's hard not to worry. The attorney who handled the custody agreement said at that time that I should have no future concerns, but I do. Is there a statute of limitations for her to establish paternity? I was told by the child's 4th birthday. I hope I've included enough information to get some good responses.

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ROWE LAW FIRM
ROWE LAW FIRM | Jeffrey S. Wittenbrink
Under C.C. article 196 the affidavit of paternity, may only be used to establish rights of the child, not rights of the alleged father, unless he has married the mother. The father, in order to establish rights, must file a paternity action. This is not the end of the story, however. A person who has established a relationship with a child and who has a presumption of paternity may also defend an action for custody, and the mother may be estopped from raising the issue of non-paternity if the biological father is not available or named to be the father of the child. In the case you have described the mother has apparently passed the time period to file a "contestation" action in her own right, and has also not met the qualifications for filing such an action. The case you describe falls into many different "gray areas" of the law. You should consult with a family law attorney immediately to create a strategy for protecting your rights and more importantly the rights of the child.
Answer Applies to: Louisiana
Replied: 11/7/2013
Provda Law Firm
Provda Law Firm | Bruce Provda
From the facts that you have cited, you are the legal father of this little girl. It also sounds as if you have custody. You need to speak with an attorney or perhaps the attorney that handled the custody agreement for advice as to what might happen should the biological father, who hasn't been around for 5 years, should suddenly appear. Also, you might start to look for witnesses to mom's behavior and other evidence that might be useful if she is serious about challenging the agreement.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 11/7/2013
John Russo | John Russo
You are the legal father,if and when she decides to file something you will prevail if you want to keep , trust me , my former partner and myself set the case law precedent in our Jurisdiction R.I. on this exact issue about 25 years ago, if you handle it correctly it's no brainer and you win, but you should start putting money away now for a good family law attorney to handle this for you.
Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
Replied: 11/7/2013
Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
What state are you in? Where is the bio-dad, he may have rights. On the other hand you have established legal rights with the AOP and caring for the child. While I am certain you have spent lots, it is due to your undertaking this relationship and the instability of the mother.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 11/7/2013
The Law Offices of Tres A. Porter | Tres A. Porter
Under California law, based upon the facts you presented, YOU are the child's legal father and have all the rights and responsibilities that go along with that situation. It is within the realm of possibility that your rights could be terminated, but that would require some significant "bad" action or failure to act on your part, NOT because of some unknown third party jumping in saying that he is the biological father. No one, attorney or otherwise, can promise you that someone could not attempt to make a claim like this in the future, but that type of claim is doomed to failure, assuming everything is the way you have represented. You should still be in contact with an experienced family law attorney in your area.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/7/2013
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
    this is a complicated mess, and a little girl's life and happiness are on the line. get a lawyer. even if you were never married, this is a divorce type problem. Before you do anything, please talk to a divorce attorney in your area. This is serious. These legal issues will affect you and your family for many years. You may cause great harm to yourself and your children, and may lose a lot of money, if you do the wrong thing.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 11/7/2013
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