What is a child? In everyday life, this is an innocuous question with a simple answer – you kind of know one when you see one. Whether you’re going to the movies, dining at a buffet, or riding the subway, what most people consider to be a “child” is clear, give or take a couple of years.
Is it up to you who will have custody of your children after your death? Not necessarily. In a lecture about Halachic Wills Rabbi Moshe Taub spoke about a young Catholic woman who converted to Judaism. She did not have a will so no one was appointed as guardian of her child. While it was natural that the maternal grandparents applied for custody, the prospect of this child being raised as a Catholic was the antithesis of what the mother wanted. What ensued was a battle to keep that Jewish child within the fold. How might his have been avoided?
A recent case in Ontario Canada, Proulx v. Kelly, addresses how DNA testing is relevant to estate litigation disputes. When the deceased has not made a will Ontario's laws of intestacy govern and if there is no spouse the next of kin inherit. With respect to receiving an inheritance under an intestacy, the law of Ontario is that a person is the child of his or her natural parents with the only exception being adopted children.