Child custody and child support cases tend to be emotional, complicated affairs. A lot goes into creating a parenting plan and establishing support payments. Any number of factors arise and throw additional wrenches into the works.
For instance, what if a child isn’t yours?
Or what if your wife shows up in the middle of the divorce proceedings, pregnant with someone else’s child? Told you things can get very, very messy.
Paternity is also a complicated endeavor. If you’re married, the law presumes any child born to the wife belongs to the husband. Even if that’s not the case, you still may have to disprove paternity. You may even wind up responsible for child support for a non-biological child.
One of our founding partners, Rick Jones, makes regular appearances on the Danny Bonaduce and Sarah Morning Show, where he answers family law questions from listeners. All of this is to say that, on a recent episode, he fielded a question that hit all of these topics. There’s a lot to take in.
Listen to the conversation below:
Caller: “Hi, we’re in a pickle. My son was in the middle of a DIY divorce and his wife showed up pregnant.”
Danny: “Wow. That is not a do-it-yourself kind of thing.”
Caller: “So what does he do now to protect himself from having to pay for this new [non-biological] child?”
Sarah: “Is it his child?”
Danny: “Is it factually his child?”
Danny: “Okay, that changes a lot.”
Rick: “Here’s what’s likely going to happen–their divorce is not finalized, correct?”
Rick: “What’s likely to happen, as long as they’re honest in the paperwork, it asks, ‘Is the wife currently pregnant?’ If they were honest with that, then the court is probably going to hold up finalizing a divorce until there’s an outcome.
“In terms of the determination of parentage, the reason they do that is that they’re there to make sure the child is taken care of. So they’re going to be very child-centric in their focus.
“Ultimately what will happen is the child is born, [and] there’s a paternity test that allows him to disprove paternity. And unfortunately, because they’re married currently, he does have to disprove paternity.
“Now, if for any reason that petition has already been filed, and wife wasn’t pregnant, or perhaps they were dishonest in filling that out, then this probably happens without the court knowing. So he definitely, to protect himself, still needs to disprove paternity.
“Have a paternity test after the child is born so that if and when she or the state ever comes to him for [child support], he has the answer, as opposed to having it happen five years down the road. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a lot of horror stories like this.”
Danny: “It’s just so sad, to be honest with you. I’m thinking if I’m the judge she has to wear a bright red ‘A.’ You can’t show up in a divorce with somebody else’s baby. But legally apparently you can.”
Rick: “Love the literary reference.”
Danny: “If I were king life would be different.”
Sarah: “Does he have to take any steps to make sure he doesn’t get on the birth certificate?”
Rick: “You know, ultimately, the name doesn’t matter, there’s no legal relevance. But on the birth certificate it’s going to be about who the father is. So as long as he does the disproving up front, he’s going to be good to go.”
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