Father Or Not? When Paternity Is In Question

If you have been recently surprised with fatherhood, you are undoubtedly experiencing a mixed bag of emotions, especially if you and the mother are no longer a couple. You certainly want to do the right thing, so you agree to make child support payments. Before you sign away your rights, you need to ensure you really are doing the right thing. Read on for vital information you need before you make a decision you could regret for a very long time.

Admission of Paternity

Many mothers need to apply for aid from the government to help with food and housing, but doing so requires that the mother name the father of the child. The government can then seek to to have some of the moneys spent for aid to be reimbursed from the named father of the child. You may be asked to sign an admission of paternity, which makes you legally responsible for child support for the next 18-plus years (sometimes child support can encompass the college years).

Once you admit to paternity, you will be obligated to pay. The courts make the child's welfare and best interest a high priority, so failing to live up to your financial obligations when it comes to paying child support could cause your wages to be garnished and could even land you in jail.

Not the Biological Father

But, what happens if you later find out that the child that you have been supporting for years and years is not really your own? Surprisingly, you may not be off the hook for continued support. The courts are very reluctant to amend child paternity orders, especially if some time has passed and if the true biological father is unable to make support payments to the child. Even if the results of a DNA test reveal you not to be the father, you absolutely are never entitled to a refund of any support already paid.

Not Just About the Money

Child paternity is a serious issue, and the implications of admitting paternity go well beyond financial concerns. When you form a relationship with a child, whether your own or not, you are forging bonds and creating a lasting connection.

The simple solution to erase any ambiguity is to insist on a DNA paternity test before agreeing to any type of support or paternity. Being a good father is admirable, but the responsibility of fatherhood should lie with the biological father, if possible. Talk to a family lawyer for more information about protecting your paternity rights.