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For fathers, child custody dispute can center on paternity

When a couple chooses to conceive a child, both parents normally assume equal rights and responsibilities related to their son or daughter. In some cases, however, the issue becomes clouded for a variety of reasons. Many Maryland families are constructed in a non-traditional manner, which can lead to legal difficulties if the couple decides to end their relationship. An example is found in the child custody dispute between actor Jason Patric and his former girlfriend.

The pair chose to conceive their child through artificial insemination. At some point after their son was born, the pair parted. Patric attempted to gain the right to play a parental role in his son's life, but was unsuccessful. A court ruled that because the pair failed to draft a written agreement granting Patric paternal rights, the child's mother was not under any obligation to allow him access to the child.

Patric has pursued the matter in the appellate system and an appeals court is scheduled to hear his case this month. However, he may face an uphill battle, due to the fact that he has no legal ties to the child, according to state law. Patric did find victory in a recent hearing in which he was granted the right to use the child's name in a campaign to raise awareness of paternal rights issues.

As this story demonstrates, fathers in Maryland and elsewhere who choose an alternative method of conceiving a child must act to establish their legal connection to their son or daughter as soon as possible. A failure to do so can lead to a difficult legal fight should a child custody dispute arise. It is also important to note that these issues are not always the result of a couple parting ways; the same type of legal battle could arise if the legal parent were to predecease the other and relatives wanted to raise the child or children left behind.

Source:, "Jason Patric - Jason Patric Wins Latest Battle In Child Custody War", , April 29, 2014

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