Paternity and Child Support

The issue of paternity and child support obligations sometimes comes up when a couple divorces. If the father has questions about whether the child really is his, he may request a DNA test to prove he's the biological father. If it turns out that he's not the child's father, there's a chance he may not have to pay support for the child.

Whether child support will be ordered in such situations will depend on the circumstances of the case and the state in which the child support issue arises. In some states, if a man is the presumed father of the child, then he may be required to help support the child.

A man may be assumed to be the child's father (unless either parent provides evidence otherwise to the court) based on the following circumstances:

  • The man and the mother of the child were married during the period of conception or birth. 

  • The child was conceived or born during an invalid marriage between the man and the mother. 

  • The man married the child's mother after the birth of the child and consented to having his name on the child's birth certificate. 

  • The man signed a document for "Acknowledgement of Paternity." 

  • The man brought the child into his home and claimed the child as his own.

That's just a brief overview of the paternity and child support issue. Below, you can read over the various questions and answer to get a better idea of individual circumstances.

Paternity and Child Support Questions

Is the father of my unborn baby responsible for medical bills?

Scarlet's Question: Is it true that the father of your unborn baby has to split the medical bills with you? And if so, how would I go about filing for that?

Brette's Answer: You need to file a paternity/support case.

Can I file for child support if I think he's the father?

Rita's Question: I have a 2 year old son. I reunited with a man online who promised to take responsibility and pay support and that he thinks the baby was his. I just filed for child support and now he doesn't want to pay it. Can he be made to pay?

Brette's Answer: Paternity testing is the only way to know who the child's father is. If you honestly believe this man is your child's father, you can start a proceeding for paternity. If he is the father then you can file for child support. Note that if he is the father, he would have a right to seek visitation and possibly custody.

Can I petition the real father for child support?

Lashonda's Question: I was with my ex for 14 years and I was abused. I got pregnant by somebody else and was scared to say anything. When the baby was born, my ex signed the birth certificate. Now we are no longer together. Can I petition the real father for child support?

Brette's Answer: You'll have to have a paternity test and paternity proceeding, but yes you can. If your ex-husband paid child support though, you may have a problem and have to repay it.

If he didn't sign the birth certificate, can I still get child support?

Tisha's Question: Will I qualify for child support if the father did not sign the birth certificate but he is not denying the baby?

Brette's Answer: Yes, but paternity needs to be legally established first. Check with the court clerk about what you'll need to file first. Good luck.

Can I get support if we share custody but he's not on the birth certificate?

Kristy's Question: My son's father and I are separated and he is not on my son's birth certificate. He takes him three nights a week. There is no court order put in place, that's just his choice. So basically he has him half the time. He doesn't pay any kind of support and he doesn't think he should. If he has him half time is he still financially responsible?

Brette's Answer: It sounds like having things organized into a court order would make everything clearer for everyone. Yes, you would still be entitled to support for your child - the schedule you describe is not 50/50 and even if it were, child support could still be possible, depending on your state laws. Get an attorney if you can afford one.

Does he owe child support if another man signed the birth certificate?

Question: My husband had an affair with a married woman before we met and they conceived a child. The woman told her husband and he forgave her and decided to take on the child as his own. Her husband signed the birth certificate and took his last name. This child is now 7 years old and my husband has never seen her. He was never ordered to pay child support but pays on his own free will. We are thinking of having a child and the extra money could come in handy. She has since divorced that man and married another. Does my husband still owe support?

Brette's Answer: Since there isn't court-ordered child support he's not obligated to pay anything. And really I'm pretty surprised he's doing this voluntarily if he isn't even allowed contact and the husband is the legal father. If the woman wants to enforce child support, she would need to go to court and have paternity legally established and then seek an order for child support. Your spouse could also seek custody or visitation. I would be interested in knowing what her divorce settlement says with regard to paternity and child support! She could be double dipping - getting it from her ex and your husband.

Is he required to pay support if he's not the natural father?

Mary's Question: We have been together for 12 years. My youngest child was six month old when we met, and he has been the only father-figure in her life. Is he required to pay me child support?

Brette's Answer: Your husband is only required to pay support if he legally adopted your child.

Does he have to pay support if tests prove he's not the father?

Korina's Question: Is a man obligated to pay support if he signed the child's birth certificate. The DNA test shows that he is not the father.

Brette's Answer: If there's a paternity test showing he is not the father, it is very unlikely the court will hold he is the father. If a court rules he is not the father, he may have no obligation to pay child support.

Can he refuse to pay support until he gets a DNA test?

Martha's Question: My ex was ordered to pay child support. He hasn't paid yet because he wants a DNA test. I have tried to set this up three times and he say that he wants to courts to deal with it. What should I do now?

Brette Answers: If you have a child support order, go back to court to enforce it. If he wants a DNA test it's up to him to tell the court that. Until then, he's legally responsible to pay the child support.

Is a DNA test required for support if he admits he's the father?

Question: My husband went to the courts to set up child support payments because he's not on the child birth certificate. However a blood test was not done and he says he's the father. Is that why the courts didn't do a blood test? And he's still not paying child support.

Brette's Answer: If he admits paternity, a blood test is not required. Blood tests are used when paternity is disputed. If you want him to pay child support you'll need to file for it.

Will I have to repay him if he isn't the father?

Trisha's Question: I was pregnant with another man's child before my husband and I got married. Since we've been separated, I applied at the CSEA to receive child support. He is going to contest it. I am wondering if I will have to pay the support money back to him once it is determined that he is not the father?

Brette's Answer: It is possible. You should speak with an attorney in your state who can help you with this. One thing to remember is that whoever the biological father is can be ordered by the court to pay you and you could turn this money over to your spouse.

Will my child support be less if he claims the "affair child" is his without proof?

Pricilla's Question: My exhusband had a baby with another girl during the time we were married. Never had a paternity test done and he kept denying it was his but when it came time for the child support with our three kids he claimed the baby his. Is there anyway I can have them do a paternity test on the baby?

Brette's Answer: If he has not legally admitted paternity (or had it determined by a court) he is not the legal father of that child and he cannot use this as a way to reduce his child support.

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