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Family law: Methods of ascertaining paternity over the years

The ways in which a child's paternal father is ascertained have changed over the past decades. Many issues are connected to a child's paternity under Connecticut family law rules, and there are a number of reasons why a child's parentage should be known, especially when it comes to child support. Silent film star Charlie Chaplin knew too well what that could mean having been fingered by his young protégé as being the father of her daughter -- something Chaplin vehemently denied.

Chaplin admitted to having an affair with the 23-year-old woman, but he maintained he did not father her child. This all unfolded in the 1940s when DNA testing was unheard of and the case created a courtroom drama since Chaplin had just wed an 18-year-old woman. The first paternity trial ended in a deadlocked jury. Chaplin's lawyers relied on blood tests: The woman had type A blood, while the child had type B, which meant -- at that time -- that the child's father must have had either type B or type AB blood. Chaplin had type O, so it was thought he could not have been the child's biological father.

The judge admitted the test into evidence but told the jury it was not considered conclusive. After three hours of deliberation, the jury found that Chaplin was, indeed, the father of the child. Such outcomes in courts at the time were not uncommon.

Times have changed. Although a Connecticut lawyer experienced in family law may be able to help a client to ascertain the paternity of a child, there are different, more succinct methods to do so. An attorney may be able to offer advice on those issues that are enmeshed with paternity, such as child custody and child support. 

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