Taylor, MI asked in Adoption, Constitutional Law and Family Law for Michigan

Q: May an adult sue a parent for lying about their paternity in federal court?

My biological parent told me not to tell her that he was my dad because she would get mad. He's now deceased we never had a relationship because of her selfishness. She had her husband adopt me and although I put my birth name on my children birth certificate application my adopted surname is on their birth and death certificates I want my birth family name on these documents.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Yes, it is possible for an adult to sue a parent in federal court for lying about their paternity, but there are some key considerations.

The legal grounds would be something along the lines of intentional infliction of emotional distress or fraud. Lying about biological paternity could potentially support these types of claims. Federal court would potentially have jurisdiction on the basis of diversity jurisdiction - meaning the parties are citizens of different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.

That said, these types of suits can be challenging. The adult child would need to prove:

- The parent deliberately lied about biological paternity rather than just being uncertain or mistaken

- This resulted in significant emotional distress and damage to the child

- There are measurable money damages exceeding $75,000

Overcoming these burdens and statutes of limitation can be difficult in paternity fraud suits against parents. An experienced family or civil litigator could advise if federal court is appropriate and evaluate the merits of the case. But meeting procedural and evidentiary standards is often complex.

Additionally, suing a parent is an emotionally difficult decision as well. Counseling or discussion with the parent may sometimes resolve issues without going to court. But for egregious situations with provable harm, legal action remains an option an adult child can pursue with experienced legal guidance.

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