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Fraudulent Fertilisation

Episode 41

Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli
Smaller text sizeDefault text sizeBigger text size Add to my bookshelf epub mobi Permalink Ebook MapMar del Plata, Bosque Peralta Ramos

“Why do you say that?” asked Federico, “I don’t understand. Or are you suggesting that...?”

“Yes,” nodded Burán without letting him finish the sentence, “with a well-managed load of semen they can fertilise several women or one woman several times. As far as I know, it’s possible to conserve the sperm for many years, following the appropriate procedure.”

“I can’t remember a fig about family law, to be honest,” commented Adolfo, “but I don’t think it’s that easy to attribute a kid to someone, and even more difficult when the relationship is extra-marital. This woman will have to prove the filiation in a resounding manner. It won’t be easy, you can refuse to acknowledge the baby.”

“I’m not so sure,” answered Roberto, “the lawyer who’s advising this bitch is Doctor Sebastián Allegri, a smart specialist... If he sent the letter it’s because he thinks the claim has substance.”

Federico’s expert voice made itself heard.

“Adolfo, I think Robbie’s right to be worried... I had forgotten about this matter but when Julieta read me the letter I did a bit of research. I was sure Roberto would ask our advice. I analysed the latest doctrine to make myself useful. I was surprised to see the big changes in this stuff; there have been enormous advances in the field of filiation law. Don’t let’s forget that the Civil Code dates from 1871, who would have dreamed at that time that wombs would be hired to gestate the embryo of another couple? Who would have imagined that it would be so easy to inseminate artificially?”

“Nobody, I’m sure,” said Fernando, “even now, not many people know about it.”

“Don’t be so sure, Fernando,” stated Federico, “it’s completely different now, there’s been a lot of water under the bridge. To give you an idea, remember that before, children of adulterers, nuns, priests, close family members, had hardly any rights. The maternity or paternity could not be investigated, according to the case, if it was a sacrilegious child or the result of adultery or incest. As recently as 1954 these categories were suppressed, adopting a much wider criteria... Besides, Robbie, this child they want to lumber you with will have its whole life to claim acknowledgement of its filiation. There’s no time limit. I wouldn’t want to stick my neck out, but everything points to a very tricky matter...”

“And a dangerous one,” said Adolfo Bernard worriedly, explaining himself before the inquisitive gaze of his friends... “Look,” he continued, “this Álvez is a right bastard. There’s no doubt about that... Not to mention the woman, she didn’t hesitate to involve her own son in this filthy business just for money. To be specific, we can say that these criminals are going to try to obtain a large patrimonial advantage. I suppose they will try and negotiate to get it. If they don’t get it, at least we shouldn’t rule out the possibility of them trying to liquidate Roberto, I’m afraid.”

A heavy silence showed that they all thought it was possible.

“After the 1985 reform, I’d say there’s a bigger risk,” said Federico. “Before, someone who wanted to be the child of a deceased person had to show that, in practice, they had been considered as such. That is, prove that they had the same surname as the deceased, that the deceased gave them filial treatment in the presence of other people. Demonstrate that they had what’s called possession of state of child. Now it can no longer be demanded.”

“How did that business go?” asked Fernando.

“It was in 1882,” said Federico, “through what was called the law of errata, that this demand was added to the Civil Code. It was an attempt to limit the number of filiation claims when the supposed father had died. It was the only way to reduce the number of this kind of trials, which as you can imagine, caused disaster in the bosom of the family. This meant that, if the alleged plaintiff had not been treated as a child by the person they claimed was their father, they couldn’t be acknowledged. It could be unfair in some cases, but it avoided the risk of scandalous situations arising all the time. If the deceased had treated the child as his own, it constituted a fundamental presumption for their acknowledgement. Now, if truth be told, this concept has been surpassed by biological tests, which can give almost certainty of the filial link. That’s why it has become the main support in claims of this sort. Perhaps that’s why the legislator has not maintained the demand of possession of estate. Therefore, the child that Juana Artigas gives birth to, if the biological link with Roberto is proven, will already have acknowledged filiation. The only precaution of importance that she’ll have top take is that of obtaining genetic samples of Robbie before he dies, or extract them from his dead body, to be able to carry out the relevant analysis.”

“I was very worried right from the outset that they could make an attempt on my life,” commented Roberto with a frown. “The thought tortured me all the way back to Mar del Plata. Can you imagine? If they murder me, everything will be much easier for them. They could impute one or more extra-marital children to my succession, dispute the inheritance of Julieta. If Juana Artigas managed to prove a biological nexus, Julieta wouldn’t have a legal leg to stand on. She would have no arguments to oppose the petition of her half-brother. I’d better look after myself, I’ve got to ask you to play...”

Federico went on, interrupting him.

“That’s not the end of it, sorry, Robbie, if we’re dealing with hypotheses, I’ve got to be blunt... Let’s suppose they kill you. Juana Artigas’s child automatically inherits. Now then, if the child subsequently died, unfortunately the successor would be her. Juana Artigas would be the direct beneficiary.”

“What do you mean?” enquired Roberto.

Federico answered, uncomfortable because of the gravity of his words.

“Well, I’m not saying it’ll happen, but let’s not rule it out. I repeat, if you die, the baby will immediately inherit. The right to your inheritance will be incorporated in its patrimony. To make it clearer, after your death, the little one will be an instant millionaire, it would be brilliant business for them to eliminate the child... All the assets that would have corresponded to the minor would have to be transferred to the mother, the only successor. They could enjoy your fortune without any snags, they’d only have to acknowledge Julieta’s part, nothing else.”

“That would be a complete aberration!” shouted Fernando, “They’d have to be the most heartless criminals in the world to kill an innocent kid, Juana’s own child. If they did that, it would be horrific...”

“Yes, it would,” said Adolfo, “but I’m afraid there’s more... If they were capable of thinking up something that evil, they could do something worse... Don’t look at me like that! I don’t think it’ll happen, but let’s consider it. Right, if they killed Julieta before Roberto, the only heir would left would be Juana Artigas’s child. They would enjoy a much bigger mouthful, they would also appropriate Julieta’s part.”

Translation: Peter Miller (© 2002)
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Copyright ©Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli, 1990
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Date of publicationAugust 2002
Collection RSSGlobal Fiction
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