Child Support When Paternity Is In Doubt

child support paternityPaying child support can be a frustrating experience, especially when the child is not biologically yours. A CBS article reported a Dallas man was jailed because it was alleged he owed more than $50,000 in unpaid child support to a child that turned out was not his.

The passing of a new Texas paternity law that gives men who doubt paternity a chance to file a claim allowed the man to contest the accusation that he was the biological father. After a DNA paternity test disproved the claim of paternity, the man was released from jail.

According to Cordell & Cordell Texas attorney Erin Clark, Texas law previously stated that a man becomes the father if his paternity is presumed. Paternity is presumed when:

  • The man is married the mother during conception;
  • The marriage to the mother ended within 300 days of conception;
  • The man married the mother and volunteered paternity; or
  • The man lived in the same household as the child during the first two years of the child’s life and claimed the child as his own.

In Florida, a judge won’t grant a divorce until the wife gives birth and paternity is determined. At that time, the marital settlement agreement can state that he is not the biological father and thus not responsible for child support.

Unfortunately, in other states, certain stipulations apply when disproving paternity. Cordell & Cordell Indiana Attorney Leslie Lorenzano stated that if conception occurred during marriage, the court would presume the husband is the father. However, this presumption is void if the mother and father present evidence that he is not the father.

Signing a birth certificate doesn’t necessarily confirm paternity and it won’t obligate the man to pay child support. In Georgia, courts may require a person to pay child support if there’s a written agreement indicating so or if the case falls under the doctrine of promissory estoppel.

The doctrine of promissory estoppel simply states that a man professes paternity by a promise, acts or implications. Examples of the doctrine of promissory estoppel are:

  • The man promised the child and mother that he’d assume paternity and support.
  • The man held himself out as the father and allowed the child to consider him so.
  • The mother and child relied on his promise and didn’t seek support from the biological father based on this reliance.

If you would like to inquire about paternity rights in your state, please contact a Cordell & Cordell lawyer near you.

By Tara N. Brewer

Special to

Men's Rights Editor

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