from Clay Circuit Court (DR-17-900004)
("the wife") appeals from a judgment entered by the
Clay Circuit Court ("the trial court") divorcing
her from L.J.B. ("the husband") to the extent that
the trial court determined that the husband is not the father
of G.P.B. ("the child"). We reverse the trial
January 18, 2017, the husband filed a complaint seeking a
divorce from the wife. He alleged, among other things, that
he had signed the child's birth certificate as the father
of the child but that he was not the child's biological
father. The husband requested that the trial court order DNA
testing to determine the child's paternity. On January
30, 2017, the wife answered and counterclaimed for a divorce.
She alleged that the husband had had his name placed on the
child's birth certificate with knowledge that he was not
the child's biological father, that the husband
"[had] chose[n] to act fully in the role of and [to] be
the child's father in every way after acknowledging the
child as his own at the child's birth, " that the
husband and the child had "developed a father-child
relationship for near[ly] ten years, " and that
"[i]rreparable harm may result to the child if [the
husband] is successfully disproved as the child's
father." On February 2, 2017, the husband answered the
trial, the trial court entered a judgment on June 20, 2017,
divorcing the parties and providing, in pertinent part:
"It is undisputed that the [husband] is not the
biological father of the ... child, however he signed an
Acknowledgment of Paternity at her birth. The child's
biological mother is [R.H., ] the [wife's daughter from a
previous relationship] and the [husband's] stepdaughter.
Both parties testified that [R.H.] was addicted to drugs at
the time of the birth of the ... child and [that the husband
had] signed the acknowledgment in an effort to keep the child
from being placed in foster care. The child is now 11 years
old and has not seen the [husband] in approximately two
"The [husband] filed for divorce in this matter and has
asked the Court to issue a ruling declaring him not to be the
legal father of the ... child. Caselaw supports the
[husband's] right to contest paternity of the ... child.
However, in response the [wife] has asserted ... §
26-17-608 of the Alabama Code [1975, ] which serves to Estopp
[sic] the denial of paternity based on several factors
enumerated in the statute. Of those factors contained in the
statute, the Court was concerned most with the nature and
relationship of the child and the [husband].
"The Court heard extensive testimony regarding this
factor. The parties both testified that [the child] was told
that the [husband] is not her father but disputed at what
time she was made aware of this. Additionally, both testified
the child was aware of who her biological mother is and had
known from an early age.
"The Court finds from the testimony that the [husband]
was not held out to be [the child's] father and in fact
the [wife] testified that she made a point to let people know
he was not. Additionally, both parties testified that [R.H.]
has been actively involved in [the child's] life. It
appears from the testimony that the parentage of the child
was not a secret to anyone and therefore will not adversely
affect the ... child.
"Based upon the pleadings and testimony given it is
ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED as follows[:]
"5. That the [husband] is not the legal father of the
... child, ... and therefore shall not be ordered or required
to pay child support to the [wife]."
18, 2017, the wife filed a postjudgment motion. That motion
was denied on July 20, 2017. On August 28, 2017, the wife
filed her notice of appeal.
husband and the wife married on October 7, 1995, and no
biological children were born of their
marriage. On June 20, 2004, the wife's daughter
from a previous relationship, R.H., gave birth to the child.
According to the parties, R.H. was using drugs at the time of
the child's birth, and the parties had been concerned
that the Department of Human Resources might place the child
in foster care. It is undisputed that, because of the
parties' concerns, the husband and R.H. had executed a
form, which was made available by the Alabama Center for
Health Statistics and entitled "State of Alabama
Affidavit of Paternity, " representing that the husband
was the father of the child. The husband admitted that he and
the wife had taken the child into their home and that he and
R.H. had subsequently consented to the wife's adopting
the child. Both the husband and the wife testified that the
child knows that R.H. is her biological mother and that R.H.
has been involved in the child's life, albeit not
consistently. Neither the husband nor the wife had knowledge
of the identity of the child's biological father.
husband admitted that he had held himself out to be the
child's father, had attended school functions as the
child's father, had supported the child, and had taken
the child fishing. The child bears the husband's surname.
The husband testified that the child is his child for all
practical purposes and that she has called him
"daddy" her entire life. It is undisputed, however,
that the husband and the wife had made it known to others
that the husband is not the child's biological father
because, they said, they did not want people to think that
the husband had had sex with R.H. The husband also testified
that he had informed the child that he is not her biological
father. The wife testified that ...