My Husband Is Not the Father of My Child—What Ought to I Do?

Dear Newsweek, My baby is now three months old and she’s the most precious little girl in the world! But during my pregnancy I was mostly alone, besides seeing a few friends every now and then. I have been married for almost five years, but my husband isn’t her father.

When I found out about my pregnancy I told my husband straight away and I told him that he wasn’t the dad. My marriage to him has been full of constant traumas. It all became much worse after I found out that my husband had only married me to get his American citizenship. He never loved me, it was all a lie.

Over the years, he would often kick me out of the house, even though the rent was paid for by myself or my grandmother. He has sexually assaulted me before and put me through absolute hell over the years. By the end of my pregnancy, I was completely vulnerable, and I couldn’t afford any of my own expenses.

On the day my daughter was born, I was in the hospital alone without any friends or family there by my side. I tried to call my grandma to have someone visit the hospital, but she couldn’t get there straight away. I didn’t have my own phone at the time, and the only number I knew off by heart was that of my spouse’s. So I called him to see if he could get to the hospital as I was so alone.

A stock image of a concerned looking woman, with an inlay of a baby’s foot on a birth certificate. A new mom has asked Newsweek for advice after her husband signed her daughter’s birth certificate, despite not being her father.
Povozniuk/Comstock/Getty Images

The agreement was that he wouldn’t put his name on her birth certificate until we could do a DNA test. But neither of us could afford to pay for the test, so he took the papers and put his name on her birth certificate anyway. He ignored my wishes for him not to do that while I was totally out of it from having a C-section.

He told me that if I’m not paying for the birth certificate then I had to be quiet. But two days later we did a home DNA test right before he left to go to France for one and a half months. The DNA test results came back showing that he isn’t her father.

Since then, he has been threatening to take her from me, even though he isn’t her father! He’s even called my baby a ‘bastard’ child more than once.

What should I do? Please help!

Tamsin, Nevada

Newsweek’s “What Should I Do?” offers expert advice to readers. If you have a personal dilemma, let us know via [email protected]. We can ask experts for advice on relationships, family, friends, money and work and your story could be featured on WSID at Newsweek.

When A Man Signs A Birth Certificate, He Accepts All Responsibilities of Being a Parent

Tracy A. Pearson is a legal, political, cultural analyst and strategist.

In the world of birth certificates, there are many kinds of fathers. For these purposes, your husband is the presumed father. A presumed father is the husband of the child’s mother when the child is born. He then made himself the legal father by signing the birth certificate. He may have bought himself several problems in his haste to find another avenue to abuse you.

By signing the birth certificate paperwork, he accepted all the rights and responsibilities associated with being a parent. I understand the agreement is important to you, but presuming it was a verbal agreement it is likely that it’s unenforceable.

Understanding that money is limited, take heart in knowing that many states have pro bono lawyers who can help you navigate the issues. The best course of action is to contact the state bar association and ask about how to locate a lawyer who can help you with paternity cases.

This problem could be approached through a restraining order, a divorce, or a termination of parental rights. First, with a history of abusive behavior, the person put his name on the birth certificate and he is using the child to threaten you, so a family court can issue a restraining order. As part of the restraining order, you can request an order barring the person from having contact with the child and you can request that child support be ordered.

I have found that when one is ordered to pay child support for a child that they know is not theirs, the legal father will often ask the court to order a paternity test to prove they are not the biological father.

A second option to solve this problem is to not only seek a restraining order but also seek a divorce. Not only can the court issue an order of protection, but you can also request sole custody, as well as request child support and a paternity test. If I could choose for you, this is the best option to remove this person from your life.

Getting Yourself, And Your Child, Out Of An Abusive Relationship Safely Is All That Matters

Orna Walters is a dating coach and relationship expert at Creating Love On Purpose.

Unfortunately, when you’re in a relationship with an abuser things will only get worse—never better. The cycle of abuse means that the violence will continue to escalate. Getting yourself and your child safely out of this situation is the only thing that matters.

Ask friends or family for assistance or find an organization where you can receive support. Don’t worry about your finances, or your personal belongings. Get yourself to safety and block your spouse from contacting you.

Once you’re out you can figure out all the details and receive legal advice and/or financial assistance. Make sure that when you go, he doesn’t catch you leaving. He cannot find out about your plan to leave—let it be a surprise that you’re gone.

If you think you may be a victim of abuse, contact 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 TTY. Or chat with someone online at, the National Domestic Violence Hotline advises.

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