I am wondering about this question - can you are disown a child if he is not your own?

Imagine a situation when you signed the birth certificate of your wife's child not knowing he is not your biological child. One day, you somehow finds out and divorces her. Do you have any obligation to this child even though you (arguably were deceived to have) signed his birth certificate?

I am curious how various country would treat this case.

  • 2
    What do you mean by "disown"? Do you mean literally "escape all legal obligations", and this has nothing specific to do with inheritance? Do you mean "via some court procedure" or do you mean "with no court procedure"?
    – user6726
    Jun 2, 2020 at 15:47
  • 5
    "Imagine a situation when you signed the birth certificate of your wife's child not knowing he is you biological child." Do you mean "not knowing he isn't your biological child"?
    – Ron Beyer
    Jun 2, 2020 at 16:47
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    Its going to take some finding but in several jurisdictions there have been rulings on similar cases and they almost always go against the cuckolded man, as it would be cruel to the child.
    – user28517
    Jun 2, 2020 at 19:39

2 Answers 2


It depends on the jurisdiction.

The term you are looking for is “paternity fraud”, and depending on where you are in the world, you can challenge paternity even after accepting the child as your own.

The wikipedia page lists several examples where the man has been successful. It also lists several examples where the man has been unsuccessful and has been ordered to continue paying child support.


In most jurisdictions, the parents of a child are the people named on the birth certificate

The law in this area is not really interested in biology. If it's your name on the certificate then it's legally your child and you are responsible for them.

  • 1
    if the mother let her husband sign the certificate knowing it was not his child and chose not to tell him, isn't that fraud?
    – Lost1
    Jun 3, 2020 at 8:03
  • @Lost1 yes, paternity fraud is a thing, and in many cases men have been successful fighting in such cases - en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paternity_fraud
    – user28517
    Jun 3, 2020 at 10:22
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    @Lost1 maybe not. In many jurisdictions the mother's husband, if there is one, is legally the father regardless of actual paternity (for example if he was overseas without contact with his wife for ten months before the child's birth).
    – phoog
    Jun 4, 2020 at 4:26
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    @phoog: Note that it's far from unheard of for a pregnancy to last ten months.
    – Vikki
    Feb 9, 2022 at 23:25
  • @Vikki thanks, I didn't know that. In fact, it seems that there is a 375-day pregnancy on record.
    – phoog
    Feb 10, 2022 at 9:01

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