Dear Mrs Macaulay,
My husband had an affair when we first got married, which resulted in the birth of a child in 2011. The child's mother did not make him aware of the pregnancy and she also named another man as the father on the child's birth certificate. The mother recently contacted us about the situation. She wants my husband to assume paternity, go through the process of having the child's name changed, and apply for the child to reside here in the US. What course of action would you recommend, since we live in the US and the child and mother live in Jamaica?
Thank you for your letter about your husband's possible paternity of a child who is now six years old. The child has been living with the identity of a man that the mother now claims is not the father. She has made certain demands of your husband as outlined above, but she has no right whatsoever to make any demands of him. After all, there is no proof that the child is his.
The first thing that your husband must do is to ascertain whether in fact he is the father of the child. The best and safest way he can this is to apply for an order for a DNA test to be done, in the manner ordered by the court, and for a declaration of paternity if the test results prove that he is the father of the child. He should also apply for an order that the child's name on the record of birth be rectified.
It seems that the mother wilfully registered the wrong name for the father of the child and now, after six years, is telling your husband to get the name changed. In my view, since she was the one who falsely and knowingly gave another man's name as the father of the child, then she is the one who ought to get the name rectified, because she is the one who committed an offence by lying.
Anyway, since your husband and you seem to want to do right by this child, then he should come to Jamaica and make his application in the Family Court for the respective parish. Since the mother seems to want your husband and you to have the child, then you and he should file an application for the following:
• A declaration of paternity;
• An order for a DNA test to be effected;
• An order that the child's name be rectified in the birth records and new certified birth certificate be issued to the applicant;
• An order that the applicant father have the custody, care and control of the child, with his wife.
If the DNA test proves that your husband is indeed the father, he can file an application for the orders and declarations just outlined. He can then apply to the US Embassy for the requisite visa to allow the child to leave Jamaica and reside with you both in the United States. He must make sure that he is given at least three sealed and/or certified copies of the order granting him the declaration of paternity and legal custody and care and control of the child. That is what he will need to show to the US Embassy when he makes the application for a green card.
I hope the DNA test proves that your husband is the child's father, and that he obtains the legal custody, care and control order so that he can take the child overseas with him. I hope for this because the child does not deserve to be left with a mother who has trampled on his/her rights from the date of birth. This woman has shown that she will never act in the best interests of that child. She has acted contrary to this principle for the last six years, the whole of the child's life. It will be so much better for the child if your husband is the father and obtains (or you both obtain) the orders I have stated and you take the child away. Then I pray that you both will provide a loving and settled home for the child and make life much better for him/her.
Good luck to you both and to the child.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.