Paternity is a primary issue that comes up in child support cases. Generally speaking, the reason for this is because a biological father typically owes a duty to their child or children to support and provide for their basic needs. In order to enforce the obligation to pay child support, it is necessary to establish who the biological father of the child is first (i.e., paternity).
However, the laws governing paternity can often be confusing and will typically vary depending on a particular state. For example, each state has their own way of classifying how the laws view the definition of “father.” Therefore, whether the father is liable for child support or not could be decided based on how a state statute defines paternity.
In addition, the party seeking child support will have to prove that the individual is in fact the legal father of the child. This can be done by subjecting the alleged father to a paternity test or paternity DNA testing, and by filing what is known as a “paternity action” with a court. The court can also order the individual to undergo a separate blood or DNA test.
If the test results can prove that the person is the biological father of the child, then the court can impose an order to pay child support on them. Hence, how and why paternity might be an issue in a child support case since it will have an effect on the outcome of the decision.
What If I Have Been Paying Child Support but a DNA Test Shows I am Not the Father?
If a person who has been paying child support discovers that they are not in fact the biological father of the child, then they will have some options available that can prevent them from having to make any additional payments in the future.
For one, if it turns out that they are not the child’s biological father, then they can be released from the obligation to pay child support. However, this depends on the circumstances of a case since certain definitions of “father” may still be required to pay, such as if they are an “acknowledged” father.
It is important to note that even if an individual has been paying child support and later on it is determined that they are not the child’s father, they will not be able to get a refund for past child support payments. Instead, they can seek reimbursement of any child support amounts paid from the actual biological father if they are able to find and identify him properly. Again, this is another reason as to why paternity can be an issue in a child support case.
What Happens If My Wife Gives Birth to a Baby that is Not Mine?
There is a legal concept known as “dual paternity” that allows the child to receive support from their biological father, even if the mother is married to another man when she gives birth. Although both figures could be considered the “father” of that child, only the party who is the child’s biological father will be required to make child support payments.
However, if the biological father cannot be found or identified, then the other individual may have to pay child support in the event of a separation or divorce.
This is especially true in cases where:
- The individual was a stepfather who adopted the child as their own;
- They are legally recognized as the child’s father and thus have parental rights; or
- If they held themselves out as the child’s father (i.e., “equitable” father) by doing things, such as acting as a natural parent, paying for the child’s needs, and playing an active role in the child’s life for a certain amount of time.
If a Woman Claims I Am the Father of Her Baby but I Know I am Not, Do I Have to Show Up in Court?
Regardless of whether the person is the father, they must appear in court. Although it may be time consuming and might seem unnecessary, showing up in court can save a person from a lot of serious legal consequences in the future.
For instance, in the eyes of the legal system, when an individual fails to appear or explicitly deny allegations that they know are not true and do nothing about it, the court can take their actions as facts that have been admitted.
In other words, not showing up even though they might not be the child’s father may appear to the judge as if they are running from their legal obligations. Thus, the court could decide to order them to pay child support because they did not appear to defend themselves and deny the woman’s claims.
Do I Need to Hire an Attorney to Help with Issues Involving Paternity?
Paternity and child support are two of the most bitterly fought issues within a family law courtroom. These issues not only have an impact on the parties’ lives, but also the child’s life and upbringing as well.
As such, if you have any questions or concerns involving a paternity matter, then you should consider speaking with a local family law attorney for further assistance.
An experienced family law attorney can help you protect your rights regardless of whether you are the biological father or not. A lawyer will also be able to discuss your legal options and can represent you during any related court hearings or meetings on the matter.