Tuesday, February 07, 2006

paternity by estoppel

Gebler v. Gatti - Pennsylvania Superior Court - February 2, 2006


The trial court's finding of paternity by estoppel (PBE) was reversed (2-1). The parties were never married, Defendant-appellant held the child out as his own for 18 months, "under Mother's misrepresentation that he was the only one having sexual relations with Mother at the time of conception." Defendant ceased acting as the child's father when he got a private DNA test and learned that he was not the child's biological father. The appellate court said that the doctrine of PBE is "aimed at achieving fairness" by holding parties to the prior conduct. It held that to apply the doctrine here "would defy principles of equity...." One judge dissented.

Donald Marritz
MidPenn Legal Services