Suppose I am a rich man who wants a biological heir. I find a woman that agrees to bear me a child. Should I get married? In what jurisdiction is getting married a good legal move?

A book by Matt Ridley says that marriage laws are there to prevent paternity fraud.

If you are married and your wife has sex with another man, she is killed. Hence, she wouldn't do that. Hence, you can be sure that your wife's child is yours.

But now things are different.

If you are married, and your wife has sex with another man, you are still liable to pay child support for your wife's children.

If you are not married, then you are only liable if the child is really yours, say, via paternity tests.

So if a man wants to only support his biological children, do U.S. laws suggest that the only way to do this is to avoid marriage?

  • Related (duplicate?): law.stackexchange.com/questions/17575/…
    – SJuan76
    Mar 26, 2018 at 19:51
  • Sorry, but I don't see a legal question here - just a question whether something is "a good idea". Please edit to clarify your legal question.
    – sleske
    Mar 27, 2018 at 9:06
  • Also, you are not always liable for the child of your wife, you can contest paternity (that would be a different question).
    – sleske
    Mar 27, 2018 at 9:08
  • Yes. But it's harder.
    – user4234
    Mar 29, 2018 at 15:35
  • 1
    I think it's a legal question. I am a rich man. I want a heir. Should I get married? As a lawyer, what would your advice be?
    – user4234
    Mar 29, 2018 at 15:35

1 Answer 1


The exact laws are going to vary by state.

According to Wisconsin laws 891.39 and 891.41, marriage creates a rebuttable presumption of paternity. If you happen to know who the real father is, you may be able to force them to get a genetic test, the results of which would disprove your paternity.

  • 2
    You wouldn't have to know who the father is or force them to have a paternity test. You don't have to prove who the father is, you just need to prove that it is not you (i.e. have a paternity test done on yourself and your wife's child).
    – sharur
    Apr 11, 2018 at 18:54
  • 2
    The only thing the statutes explicitly say rebuts the presumption is someone else being at least 99% likely to be the father, but that may not be the only way to rebut. Your way would probably work.
    – D M
    Apr 11, 2018 at 19:00
  • I didn't read that statue as saying that someone else at 99% was a requirement; I read that as being sufficient evidence, even without the husband's genetic test.
    – sharur
    Apr 11, 2018 at 19:09
  • @AndyT Yes, they'll vary by country (obviously), but the question title says "In US", so that seems outside the scope of the question.
    – D M
    Apr 13, 2018 at 15:17
  • @DM - Doi! My mistake. Often I concentrate more on the question body and tags than I do on the title.
    – AndyT
    Apr 13, 2018 at 15:19

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