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Does biological father have right to see child if not on birth certificate?

Weymouth, MA |

My estranged husband is on my son's birth certificate, not his biological father.
His biological father wants to see his son, but i don't feel my son is safe around him (i have reasons that i dont want to get into).

Does he have any right to see the child without first going through some kind of legal process? Will i get in trouble from keeping him from seeing his son?

Attorney Answers 3


The only way the alleged biological father would have any rights is to file a paternity claim in Probate Court. (I say "alleged" because you do not have legal proof of the fact.) The Court could order a DNA test and then order the birth certificate be changed if in fact the DNA comes back as showing that the alleged biological father is the father. At that point he could file a complaint for visitation. Whether he would get visitation depends on whether the court finds such visitation to be in the child's best interest.

E. Alexandra "Sasha" Golden is a Massachusetts lawyer. All answers are based on Massachusetts law. All answers are for educational purposes and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question.

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Since your estranged husband is listed on your son's birth certificate and especially if your child was born during your marriage to your estranged husband, he is presently considered to be your son's father and has rights and obligations to your child. The other "biological father" currently has no rights and also no obligations to the child and will need to establish paternity to gain rights. If who you consider to be the true biological father is determined to be so, the birth certificate could be corrected with the proper name inserted as the father. If the other "biological father," does nothing, he will continue to have no rights.

You will not get in trouble for denying somebody rights who is right now just another guy. Is the estranged father aware that he is probably not the biological father, is he paying child support, and does he have visitation?

If who you consider to be the true biological father takes the necessary steps and is declared to be the father, then he would gain visitation rights (and possibly at some point could make a custody claim as well) and you should seek child support from him. As for your safety concern, there are many options that you could pursue to decrease your concern such as supervised visitation (somebody else watches over the visits), drug tests, counseling, etc...

You do not state how old the child is, but if your child has believed your estranged husband to be the father for many years, you will need to tread carefully and the "other" father should be introduced into your child's life slowly.

The content of this answer should not be relied upon or used as a subsitute for consultation with professional advisors and it should be clearly understood that no attorney-client privilege has been created. A more complete answer and/or more accurate answer can only be provided in a more thorough examination of the facts in a consultation with my firm.

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1 comment

Michael L Rich

Michael L Rich


Good answer but with a caveat - it ignores the finality of the birth certificate that will prevent the alleged biological father from going forward with an action without jumping through additional hoops that the father of a child who did not have another father already on his birth certificate would not have to go through. "Unless either signatory rescinds the acknowledgment within 60 days of the date of signing as provided in this section, the acknowledgment shall establish paternity as of the date it has been signed by such putative father and mother and shall have the same force and effect as a judgment of paternity, subject to challenge within one year only on the basis of fraud, duress or material mistake of fact" MGL chapter 209C, §11(a). "If the mother of the child was or is married and the child’s birth occurs during the marriage or within 300 days of its termination by divorce, a voluntary acknowledgment of parentage naming the putative father may be executed by the mother and the putative father only if the mother and the person who was the spouse of the mother at the time of the child’s birth or conception sign an affidavit denying that the spouse is the father of the child" MGL c. 209C §5(b)


Yes, but needs to acknowledge paternity and may have to file an action.

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