This is one of the areas where the current law is inevitably going to change and there was a recent case of a mother being imprisoned.
If a woman has deliberately deceived her husband/partner about a child (for example put the husband on the birth certificate when she has good cause to believe him not to be the father) and as a result has financially profited from that deception, then the law will eventually have to recognize that simple truth.
This may take a while to feed through, but it will happen.
To that end, painful as it may be, it means that you should do the paternity test.
Sadie is correct - I now have sole residence of a son (17) who is not biologically mine, and have had since he was nearly 16.
However, that is by default; his mother more-or-less threw him out and he had nowhere else to go. He had been severely alienated against me and the experience for him has been pretty horrible.
Emotionally and psychologically the lack of the biological tie has made no difference to either of us, but we had a very close relationship until he was 7. That''s going to be different in different cases but once a father and his child have bonded you are not going to break that bond.
In the present case, the bond has formed, the children need a father. They are children of the family technically, though the legal situation may be less defined.
If the father goes to court for contact - and it sounds as if he will have to - and doubt is cast on paternity the court will direct a DNA test before proceeding. It then ceases to be anyone''s choice.
If the father is not biologically the father he will not have to pay maintenance. The CSA cannot make an assessment and anything he has paid through the CSA will be returned. He would also be able to sue the mother for all financial costs to date and for psychological damages, if he chose to (some cases succeed, some don''t). The CSA or the court may want the biological father (if known) to be traced; the CSA will want his money and the court may direct that he be identified and added to the child(ren)''s "life story".
Whether the father would get contact would depend on the individual CAFCASS officer who prepares the s.7 report - which will almost certainly be ordered - and on the individual judge.
As the responses on this thread show, some people think biology is everything; some more enlightened posters realise it doesn''t count for much once there is a bond. If you are lucky you will have an enlightened judge and CAFCASS officer and contact will be ordered. If, as seems possible, one child is biologically the father''s and one is not, the usual course is to keep siblings together.
If a DNA test proves he is not the father, he will receive a letter with just two words on it - "Paternity excluded". This can be very traumatic, even if it is half expected, so it is advisable to have counselling in place. The court may consider that the father then has no PR (it''s a bit of a grey area) and the biological father (if known) acquires PR. The non-biological father then has to apply for shared residence as this is the only way to get PR. You are then faced with the usual obstacles to getting shared residence, plus the lack of biology.
In my case I had an idiot of a judge, a woolly-minded CAFCASS officer who had no imagination, and an ex hell-bent on preventing contact, and I lost all contact for more than 7 years. It can be a bit of a gamble, but one over which you often have no control.
You are mixing up a whole lot of issues here and it has nothing to do with enlightenment.
The starting point should be a child''s right to know who its parents actually are. In many cases a perfectly good biological father has no idea he has a child.
Persuant to that, the biological father should have the right to know he has a son/daughter and the non biological father should not have to pay if he is not the father.
Then there is the totally separate question of what relationships and contact are best for the child. This is more about the competence of CAFCASS and the competence of the court, both of which are highly suspect.
I am a biological mother who has lost contact (still pay CSA) with my youngest of three children.
My husband and his new wife even went so far as to fill in the parental contact form at his new school stating that the contact in case of emergency was the new wifes mother - not me as the real mother, my mother as the real grandmother or even his own father as the other real grandfather.
In order to prove that my son was my son (as husband refused to accept that when school asked) I had to send the school a certified copy of my son''s birth certificate. I have to say that it was one of the most humiliating episodes of my divorce to date - queuing in the local post office with my passport and my sons birth certificate and a copy of it and asking the man behind the counter (who I have known for all my life and he has known our family for many years) can you please confirm that this is a true likeness of me and can you sign the birth certificate as I need it as proof of the original - guy looked at me and said well I think we all know you are "mini souls" mum.
My husband and his new wifes interest in all our three children is basically firstly financial and secondly image based. As many will know we live in the same village and my youngest lives across the road and yet I never get any contact with him and have not for the past 3 years.
IF the original poster wants contact and wants to financially maintain children which he always suspected not to be his own and now his wife has come out and said so then he needs to continue paying mainenence and fight contact via the courts.
Also the original poster needs to examine her own feelings about the children as there is no point being wishy washy now only to regret things in years to come.
I will never give up on my children - (I do know that they are mine for obvious reasons and I also know that they are biologically my husbands).
My oldest son has divorced him by proxy stating he is ex-dad and even wants to change his surname back to my Maiden Name (I have told him that he can but the rest of the family are keeping our married name - partly because I have been known by this name now for 20 years, it shows we are a family group - even though separated at present and also I am still in contact with husbands parents and his extended family where as my husband isn''t).
Forsetti, that is an incredible story and a bit of an inspiration and some hope for me.
The Dark ages and enlightenment - well they are poles apart, in my view in so many ways we face a precipice, we can go on in the same incompetent and wishy washy manner regarding human rights, law, finances, spirituality and ecology or we can face the truth and struggle to move from the age of technology to the age of enlightenment.
In my view if we do not all attempt this collectively then we will fall back, not to the industrial age or any other ages including the iron or stone age (via the green revolution and from a gold standard based economy to a commodity - predominently fossil fuel based economy) straight through the dark ages into the permanently black age (spiritually sometimes referred to as armageddon versus genesis or maybe just oblivion).
I know that this post is on the face of it about child contact but in my view all matters are relevent - some of the people I admire are James Lovelock, Matt Simmons, David Attenborough and Primo Levi. We also have some marvellous statemen doing their best at present worldwide. At a local level we can all play our part.
Halfadad - The sporadic contact hasn''t been through his choice, but neither has she flouted a contact order. He has tried to reason with her and arrange contact between themselves and she has changed/stopped it as and when it suits her. She already tells the kids he doesn''t want them so it wouldn''t necessarily start any new issues for them. He has been assuming they are his and acting accordingly for all of their lives, but wouldn''t the impact on the kids be so much worse if they discovered in a few years that he wasn''t their dad? Also, the ex is incredibly manipulative and would no doubt turn it round to be my partners fault - i.e. Daddy knew he might not be your real Daddy but he decided not to find out and not to tell you.
Rugby - I agree that that should be the case, but technically he has allowed himself to be deceived because he''s always known she was cheating and has still continued to pay...
Forseti - Your case is inspirational, but like you say, quite different to this. The children were very young when my partner and his wife seperated and he was also away with work for a large portion of the section childs life so I think she may have a good case of arguing for their to be no contact if he was proven not to be their father. I am of the school of thought that biology doesn''t matter; I was raised being told by my mother and sister that my father wasn''t my real father but biology didn''t, and still doesn''t, matter to me. However, I do think children have the right to know the truth and then make their own choices.
The reality is that (in general) divorce for men has never been more expensive. The price for mothers is that their behaviour has never been under more scrutiny.
Courts simply hate mothers who deceive husbands on paternity. Courts simply hate mothers who constantly brake contact orders when the father is paying maintenance.
These children are young. If he has a contact order and there are issues around paternity, which he has made clear he is overlooking for the sake of the children and he is paying maintenance, then she has to be very careful how she behaves.
So best bet is he outlines his concerns to the court and asks for a contact order asap.