Texas Courts: Pay Child Support For Kid That’s Not Yours
When paternity is in question, it can send families into a spiral. Many couples find themselves divorcing over the mere question of whether or not the child is the husband’s. For unmarried men, who may or may not be the father of the child in question, the legal road is a bit more challenging.
It is important for unmarried fathers to be proactive when establishing paternity and to ensure that their parental rights are protected. With the laws varying in every state, it is important to legitimate your child, after paternity has been established.
Understanding paternity fraud
The hazards of paternity fraud are well-documented, and proving that it has occurred is even more challenging. In order to do so, a man must show that the mother had knowledge that he was not the biological father, despite being told so, and that he had signed the acknowledgement legitimizing the child, based on her verbal confirmation.
Given the fact that heredity plays a major factor in health, a child faces health risks, not knowing their family history. These children and the future generations after them are left vulnerable to diseases that can develop later in life, and without the knowledge of their true paternity, the diseases will continue to escalate in potency and spread.
The financial risks involved in paternity fraud are fairly obvious, and there have been many cases where men have been left paying child support on children that are not theirs, based on misinformation. These men have invested time, money, and a tapestry of emotions into a child that they believed to be their own, only for it to be untrue, and the system involved makes it nearly impossible to receive reimbursement.
As a parent, it should not be about the money. The money should come secondary to the love that one invests into their relationship with the child, but when the child is not yours, it legally can make one question making child support payments.
A recent finding in the state of Texas is forcing one man to make payments, despite not being the biological father of the child in question. A court ruled in 2003 that Gabriel Cornejo owed his ex-girlfriend, Carel Stith, child support, because she claimed that there was no way that the child was not his, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Cornejo and Stith ended their relationship over 15 years ago, and Cornejo currently is married with three children. He had no knowledge of the child support payments that a sheriff’s deputy said were due until he showed up at his door last year, according to ABC 13 in Houston. He met the child, a teenage girl, for the first time, and took the DNA test. The DNA test proved that he was not the child’s biological father, according to Fox 8 News in North Carolina.
However, the test was too late, according to the Texas family code, chapter 161. According to the ordinance, even if you are not the biological father, you still owe payments that accrued before the paternity test proved otherwise.
This clause is coupled with the fact that before paternity was established, child support was taken from Cornejo’s paycheck long ago. Cornejo never fought it, establishing a claim that he should have dealt with years earlier.
The payments in question, three garnishments of $31 each when he was employed at a car dealership, were enough to raise questions regarding obligation. Without Cornejo and his lawyer convincing a judge to reopen the case, the old court order will stand, forcing him to pay $65,000 in child support for a child that is not his, or jail time.
Stith is not disputing the DNA tests results. She is disputing his obligation. She feels that because she began receiving child support, Cornejo failed his obligation as what she feels is his role as the child’s father. Regardless of the results or Cornejo’s role in the upbringing of her daughter, Stith’s claim is based on the role she felt that he filled when he made those child support payments, leaving her entitled to more.
Without reform to the paternity fraud process, more men can find themselves in Cornejo’s shoes and facing legal obligations to make child support payments to children that not only did they not have any hand in raising, but are not biologically theirs.