Berman & Asbel, LLP

Purported father of Bristol Palin's baby seeks custody rights

Pennsylvania residents may be interested in learning that Dakota Meyer, the apparent father of Bristol Palin's new baby, has filed a petition for joint legal custody in Alaska Superior Court. The baby was born on Dec. 23.

Mr. Meyer, a former Marine who is from Kentucky, was engaged to Ms. Palin before their engagement was called off in May. In his petition, Mr. Meyer is seeking shared physical and joint legal custody. Although his petition does not ask for child support, it could come up at a later time in the case.

Ms. Palin didn't announce that she was pregnant publicly until June, a month after the couple ended their relationship. Mr. Meyer asserts in his petition that he believes he is the father of the baby. Ms. Palin has never publicly stated who the father of her child is. Mr. Meyer is credited with saving 36 people during an ambush by insurgents in Afghanistan in 2009.

In a child custody case between an unmarried father and mother, the father must first be shown to have paternity of the child. This can be done by a joint acknowledgment of both parents or seeking a paternity test through the court. It is unclear in Ms. Palin's case whether Mr. Meyer has established his paternity. If he hasn't done so yet, he will need to do so before he will be granted child custody and visitation rights. While his petition doesn't seek child support, child support is often automatically ordered by courts according to the child support guidelines of the state.

Source: ABC News, "Dakota Meyer seeks joint custody of child with Bristol Palin," Mark Thiessen, Jan. 6, 2016

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