Child Support and DNA tests

There have been a few stories on the news lately about guys who were contesting child support payments based on DNA tests that proved they were not the fathers.

In most of the cases, the husband and wife got divorced and the guy was to pay court-ordered child support. At some point, the guys decided to have a DNA test done and the results showed they could not be the father of the child they were supporting. The guys went back to court to try to have the child support revoked and were basically told “Sorry guys, you still have to pay up.”

The 20/20 segment dealing with this said it was an English common law doctrine that is still applied today. This common law doctrine essentially presumes that any child born during a marriage is the guy’s and that it is in the child’s best interest to maintain that presumption even if it is later proved that is not the case. Therefore, child support is typically not revoked even if the guy can prove the child isn’t his.

Now, if I were a guy in that situation, I could understand the frustration. The mother presumably has lied to the guy and to the court about who the father is. Why isn’t the mother prosecuted for perjury and/or fraud? And if the guy isn’t the father and the mother really wants child support, why not make it the mother’s responsibility to find the real dad and let him support his child?

I have to side with the guys in this case and think this situation is unfair to the guy.

This is good fuel for a debate.

If there has been doubt all along, but the father agreed to be a parent–then after the divorce say “Well, I don’t think it’s mine anyway,” that just doesn’t seem right, especially if that is the person the child (if it is old enough) recognizes as “Dad.”

In a case like that, it’s punishing the child for the mother’s infidelity.

i think the childs going to be punished for that no matter what the law is

I have a friend who is going through that right now. The woman told him three years ago that she knew all along that the girl wasn’t his and now she is 10 and knows that he isn’t her dad, and he doesn’t treat her any differently, but he is still made to pay child support.
I think the state is just happy that at least someone is paying for the care of the child so why mess with it.
My husband pays for my step-daughter without fail, but we had a hard time getting them to lower it. He is now out of the Army and has two more children with me, and I had two when we met. That didn’t make a difference. We weren’t allowed to live on what they were leaving us, his job wasn’t very good at the time. He actually had a two week paycheck that said we owed the company $2.10. We had that one framed for a while because of the sheer stupidity of it.
His ex and I are friends so we went in to see these people together, and they said that it didn’t matter wether it was us trying to get it lowered or her it just wasn’t being done.
I know I will probably get alot of shit for this one, but the system is very slanted towards women. I get alot more done dealing with my child support problems with my two than my husband does with his one.
I do know a dead-beat mother also, so I do know that it goes both ways and that you just never hear about it.

The unfairness of it all come in when you realize that they are just as happy to reverse it, ie order a guy to pay child support even if he has NOT “been acting as father”, and the DNA sez he is the dad. Fathers have no rights in this country.

First of all the judicial system during custody is no longer quite as slanted toward women. I do not remember where I got this statistic but if I must I will try and find it again…in 70% of child custody cases if the father sues he will win. This was explained that in most cases men made more money and the court saw this as the father being better able to care for the children.

As for men having to pay child support…It does not seem fair that a man who didn’t father a child should be ordered to pay. I’ll have to think about that one for awhile. I think the state should at least try to go after the biological father. Should the woman be punished for lying, if the courts think so I’d hope they would. Should the “husband” be ordered to pay because the child was concieved during the marriage, maybe, but every effort should be made to locate the biological father and have him assume responsibility.

If you father a child then you are responsible for that child, regardless if the mother is a slut and it was only a one night stand. There is no excuse for an unwanted pregnancy these days, and the responsiblity lies with both parties. As a woman I do not take these kind of risks. I make sure that I have some form of birth control. Men should too. There is no excuse for making this kind of “mistake” and then not taking responsibility for it.

I am sympathetic to men who must pay child support. I have known cases where the courts leave them very little left to live on. But by the same token if they were in the position of caring for a child every day then their burden would be even greater, financially and emotionally. It has been my observation that a man who takes his parental responsibilities seriously will not only pay his child support willingly but also strive to be more to his children than just a “every other weekend dad”.

Having children is a very serious responsiblity for both parties. It is in the best interest of the child that we as a society throw out all of the old sterotypes and double standards that have been assigned to men and women.


This is an issue in which there can be no single answer that would be fair in every situation. Some news show in the last couple months (How’s that for a cite?:)) did a segment about second families and how child support can sometimes really screw them. They showed many instances where both the man and woman remarried and the man was giving a large amount of money to his former spouse who was living quite comfortably with her income, her new husband’s income, and the child support. Meanwhile, the kids husband number one had with wife number two had a far less comfortable lifestyle. It’s definitely not fair no matter which way you slice it when that is the situation.

The DNA issue is also problematic. If a man acts as a father to a child then he should support the child. Developing a reasonable standard of what “acting as a father” means would pose problems there too. (If a couple breaks up when the child is an infant and he sees it twice a month for a year before the courts get to his case, is that sufficient to meet the standard?)

What strikes me as ironic is that this seems in opposition to the previous judicial take on biology. Anyone remember Baby Jessica? There the court ripped a child from her adoptive parents because the father hadn’t signed his rights away. Momma and he had split up when she had given birth, so she provided no name for the father and put the baby up for adoption. Then after a year goes by, they get back together, she tells him about it, and they go to the court and get the child back. In that case, the child’s parentage was deemed more important by the court than the fact that she had been raised for 2 years (?) by a loving adoptive family, the only one she had ever known. FWIW, a “where are they now” segment last year revealed that Baby Jessica is being raised by Mom after the divorce.

In that case, biological parentage was given consideration over and above the actions of the parents, as well as the welfare of the child. In these DNA cases you are talking about, it’s the actions of the parents over DNA. Gotta love the fine legal minds of our age.

Here’s one solution. After the child is 18 years of age there shouldn’t be any child support. The father should sue the mother for compensation of all that wronful child support he paid over the years. Hell, he could sue the person who was really the father as well.


I personally think this is the “deep pockets” philosophy at work. The lawyers go after whoever has the money. If the real father was a millionaire while I’m a lonely pool boy, I guarantee the millionaire is going to get hit with child support. Reverse the roles and the millionaire is still going to get hit even if he’s not the real father.

In a lot of divorces, I think the wife uses child support as a tool for revenge. She’s not interested in making the real father take responsibility – she wants the ex to pay regardless. If it’s later proved he’s not the father, so what? The important thing is she’s getting a court-ordered check.

I understand this is a gross generalization but I’m focused on that group of women who cheat during their marriages and then lie about the father. I think that paternity tests should be used to determine child support and if someone can prove they aren’t the father and have no wish to continue supporting the child, they shouldn’t have to pay.

Personally, I don’t think anyone should be forced to support any child he or she doesn’t want to, even if he or she is the biological father or mother. It’s called “giving the child up for adoption.”

But that’s just me.

The primary concern must be for the child. When you get married, you assume responsibility for children of that marriage.
One remedy might be to sue the mother to disclose the identity of the biological father, then sue him to recover the amount of the support.
Is that legally possible?

What about the other side? If a man cheats on his wife, is she responsible for any children that result? If not, is this a double standard?

need2: But the unfairness is the double standard. If a man IS the biological father, he has to pay, and if he is NOT the biological father, but tried to raise the kid LIKE a father, he pays. Should be one or the other, and I suggest Biological dads pay up. If you can’t keep your snake in your pants, you gotta pay. In the other case, you are penalized for being a “nice guy”. That really bites.

And I believe that even if the “new dad” can PROVE he was “tricked” into it (“She swore she was on the pill”) he should still pay, BUT that the Judge should be able to consider that in ordering how much $$>

MGibson, your plan won’t work because there’s a statute of limitations on suing someone for money owed. It’s usually two years. You can say, “change the law” but it is neither realistic nor practical to do so. I’m lucky if I can find last year’s financial records. You expect a guy to keep a financial log of all the money he’s spent on his kids for 18 YEARS on the off-chance it’ll later turn up that this kid is not his biological child?

For those who argue a double standard, let me ask you this: Should the man who’s acted as a parent to this child for x number of years be denied VISITATION privileges based on DNA tests? Either he has a parental claim or not. You can’t have it both ways.

Yes, the woman betrayed her husband. No question. But the child didn’t betray anyone, so why should he pay the price?

I think this is a great point. Personally, I could not abandon any child who views me as his father. Just couldn’t. And I don’t think the courts could ethically rule that this bond could be severed based on genetic evidence and against the wishes of the father and child. I am an adoptive father, which may explain the depth of this feeling: there is absolutely nothing second-best or “unoffical” or different about the love I feel for my son, our lack of common DNA notwithstanding. There is more to being a father than genetic ties. Perhaps that’s what common law recognizes?

 But the statute of limitations wouldn't be over until 2 years after child support payments stopped. Since each payment could be seen as a continuation of the "conspirac."


Marc, that’s not the way the law works. We’ve had cases involving kidnapping (where the kidnapper basically raised the boy as his own) that couldn’t be prosecuted because the charges weren’t brought in time. The key is when the crime occurred. (The only exception that I know of is “repressed memories” cases where the plaintiff argued that he didn’t know the crime occurred til x years later.) You simply can’t bring a claim for monetary relief 18 years later, regardless of when the fraud first began. Like I said, neither the duped “father” nor the mother could be expected to keep financial records that long to either prove or disprove a claim. And without receipts and records, how can you come up with a dollar figure?

Besides, there’s a strong case to be made that the “father” hasn’t been made to suffer in any way, since he enjoyed a paternal relationship with the child in exchange for monetary support.

There is definitely a double standard against men in paternity cases. A man will be forced to support a child that is his (and even if it isn’t his) while a woman can renounce her parental obligations and give the child up for adoption. The pendulum has swung waaayyy too far. Boy am I glad to be happily single and without children.

How about this approach? At birth of a kid, get the DNA testing done. If it is a match, no problem. The man will either be 100% excluded or a match in 99.9 something will register. 95% is admissable in court as proof of paternity.

Anyone remember that slut in the midwest who had a kid and was collecting support from two men? The DNA showed neither of them were the dad, and they sued her for visitation.

My opinion, anyone paying support should get a receipt showing that every dime goes to the kid, and not to the mommy’s new boyfriend.

Also any woman who commits fraud by passing a kid off as belong to the husband if it isn’t so, ought to face criminal charges, and pay back the money and double damages.

Men, get a vasectomy. That way you don’t have to ‘trust’ tht the birth control pill is being taken. And that way you won’t get taken.

My LTL had an experience with that. He had had a vasectomy years ago and a bank teller he had dated before me told him she was pregnant and needed money for an abortion. He knew it wasn’t his. Turns out she had taken money from the till and would be fired if she didn’t give it back.

Live and learn.

Details of legal reasoning can also be found in this article on page 50. (yeah, yeah, believe it or not, I bought it for the articles, heck, even lent it to my teachers)
Anyway, for the entertainment of the masses, three highly abridged cases.

Suposedly did a DNA test on own children to test efficacy of procedure for business purposes, was surprised to find the youngest of the three did not test as his.
Sued for reduction in child support (child was 18 months at time). Instead, lost visitation rights.

Wife moved out with child of two, taking everything from the house. He was ordered to provide child suppor. Two years later, discovered boy could not have been his and his wife’s due to eye color. Stopped paying child support - wife responded by suing another she believed to be the real father. Tests proved he wasn’t. She sued Miscovich in turn, judge refused to allow evidence of paternity and reinstated payments, garnishing wages.

Wife visited a fertility specialist, did not use husband’s sperm, but rather payed for a sperm bank order. While only a few days pregnant, she filed for a divorce. The husband objected to selective abortions of the quadruplets resulting from the implantation on religious grounds (idiot). This was sufficient proof of willingness to assume a parental role. Wife successfully sued for 65% of husband’s income.
Soooo. We have one 1 1/2 year old, one child where the person who ends up paying is the second person sued, and one case of mere pregnancy being sufficient.