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If your wife has a child, chances are good you're the dad

If you are not the father of a child, it just seems right and fair that you should not be held responsible for raising that child or paying for its support. There certainly are cases in Texas in which challenges to paternity have been successful, but new research out of Belgium suggests that if you are married and your wife has a child, chances are pretty good it's yours.

As we have noted in previous posts, the law of Texas regarding paternity can be complicated and confusing. When questions are raised, it's wise to consult an attorney. Legal fatherhood depends on a number of factors and marital status happens to be one of them. Biology is another.

The Belgian study focuses on that latter factor and what it shows is that, despite what the tabloids and daytime talk shows would like us to think, the rate of men raising children they haven't fathered is really very low. That's been the state of things for about the last 500 years, and appears to be the case all around the world.

The thinking ahead of the publication of this particular report had been that as many as 20 percent of children might not actually be the offspring of the men who were alleged to be the father. The assumption was that there has been a whole lot of cheating going on by both husbands and wives -- the driver being the supposed evolutionary advantage to both sexes of casting a broad genetic net.

That proved not to be the case in and around Flanders, Belgium. By comparing Y chromosomes of men who purportedly shared the same dad, researchers were able to show that for the last 500 years misattribution of fatherhood only happened about 1 percent of the time. When the scientists broadened the field and looked at the gene pools of other societies, they found similar rates across them all.

The scientists say the study also throws the theory of evolutionary advantage through cheating into question.

More research is said to be coming. We'll be interested to see what it reveals.

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