1. Introduction
2. The Right to Procreate
  2.1 Skinner v. Okla.
  2.2 Wiscon. v. Oakley
  2.3 Involuntary Sterilization
  2.4 Kin Selection
  2.5 Marriage
  2.5.1 Anonymous
  2.5.2 Tompkins v. Tompkins
  2.5.3 Williams v. Williams
  2.6 Transgender Marriage
  2.7 Polygamy
  2.8 Prostitution
  In Brief
3. Who Is My Family?
3.1 Family Identity and the Right to Associate with Kin
  3.2 Marriage and the Paternity Presumption
  3.2.1 Jones v. Trojak
  3.2.2 Michael H. v. Gerald D.
  3.2.3 William "TT" v. Siobhan "HH"
3.3 Paternity Estoppel
3.4 Equitable Parenthood
3.5 Duty to Support
  3.6 The Paramour Statute
  3.7 Maternal Transmission of Citizenship
  In Brief
4. Whose Child Is This?
  4.1 The Surrogate Cases
  4.1.1 Johnson v. Calvert
  4.1.2 Belsito v. Clark
  4.2 Shotgun Weddings
  4.2.1 Fairchild v. Fairchild
  4.2.2 Gard v. Gard
  4.2.3 B. v. S.
  In Brief
5. Shopping For Eggs & Sperm
  5.1 Bad Sperm
  5.2 Cryogenic Orphans & Waifs
  5.2.1 Gifts of Sperm
  5.2.2 Who Is My Father?
  In Brief
6. Sexual Orientation
  6.1 The Right to Practice One’s Sexual Orientation
  6.2 Discriminating on the Basis of Sexual Orientation
6.3 Same-sex Adoption
6.4 Same-sex Marriages
  In Brief

4.2.  Shotgun Weddings

shotgun marriage: 1 : a marriage forced or required because of pregnancy -- called also shotgun wedding.

Raising someone else’s children can’t be good for the genes.  When it’s not by choice, it can be even worse.  Consider the shotgun marriage scenario where a man marries a women on the belief that she is pregnant with his child, but later discovers that the child is not his own.  Should he be required to continue in the marriage, and support the errant wife and her child, or should we permit him to divorce, terminating the family relationship, at least, because of the deception involved?

In a line of nineteenth century cases, relief was denied the cuckolded husband, despite clear evidence that the child was another’s, and that his wife had deliberately lied about it.  The shotgun wedding was upheld.  Several prominent reasons were offered for rebuffing the husband’s request.  Chief among these were lack of judicial authority (Long v Long, 77 N.C. 304, 1877), the husband’s own negligence in failing to determine the true paternity of the child (Foss v Foss, 94 Mass. 26, 12 Allen 26, 1866), and the so-called unclean hands doctrine (Fairchild v Fairchild, 43 N.J. Eq. 473, 11 A. 426, 1887), where the husband’s moral fault in engaging in premarital sex barred him from obtaining a remedy to his wife’s fraud.  Husband and wife were equally guilty, and the law would not grant relief to someone who had unclean hands.

Sustaining the shotgun marriage is more favorable to the wife than her cuckolded husband.  The rule reflects the nature of a bargain where sex is traded for the promise of familial support.  If the female provides sex, then her expectation is that the male will support any fruit of their union.  Why should we let him out simply because the baby is not his own.  He got the benefit of the bargain – the chance to copulate – so he should be required to keep his promise.  This is consistent with evolutionary principles.  The female’s egg is a scarcer resource than the male’s gamete, and it is economically sound to place a higher value over it.  Letting the woman enforce the fraudulent marriage, reflects this judgment.

In fact, maybe no damage is done.  The cuckolded man is held to the contract, but he has continued reproductive opportunity with his wife, a woman he knows to be fertile and capable of bringing offspring to term.  An older child, albeit not his own, can provide assistance in raising younger full-blooded offspring.  The actual biological father wins, as well, since his child is ensured support from a two-parent family.  Everyone’s reproductive interests are advanced.

But why should a male be scammed into supporting another man’s offspring?  Beginning in the late 1800’s, courts began to loosen in their point of view.  If the promiscuous woman cannot persuade the biological father into marrying her, but tricks another sexual partner into a wedding, that marriage will be terminated upon discovery of the deception.  Under this regime, a father is not required to support a child who is genetically unrelated to him.