S.R.D. v. T.L.B., 174 SW3d 502 (Ky. App., 2005)
Husband who held himself out to be child's father for 9 years
was equitably estopped to deny paternity and child support
obligation when at the time of the divorce decree there was and
uncontested assertion that the marriage produced three
Husband who held himself out to be child's father for over nine years was equitably estopped to deny paternity and child support obligation after entry when at the time of the divorce there was an uncontested assertion that the marriage produced three children. Six years following the decree DNA testing confirmed a lack of paternity. The father wanted to continue in his role as a father in every way except for the financial support of the child.
The majority noted that that the Equitable Estoppel Doctrine has been applied in cases in which a custodial mother has sought continued support for her children from their stepfather. Its application serves the compelling need of the child to support when the child has been effectively foreclosed from obtaining support from a natural parent by the stepfather's conduct.
Judge Potter's dissent says this result places Kentucky at the extreme margin of the minority of states which have approved the doctrine of "paternity by estoppel." It was noted that three times in the past CR 60 relief from child support obligation have been granted when putative fathers were able to show proof they were not biologically related.
No mention in the majority opinion or in the trial court is made of the natural father.
The dissent states "prudent family lawyers will advise husbands to obtain DNA tests as soon as their children are born and have nothing to do with the child if the results are unfavorable."
Finally, the dissent suggests this may be a matter best left to the legislature than the courts, i.e., the Uniform Parentage Act.