Is there a statue of limitations on establishing paternity?

Is there a limit on how long a woman has to establish paternity and sue for child support? I know there are strict limits (no more than 3 yrs) on how much time a putative father has to disprove paternity. Could a woman not bother trying to get support or list a father on the birth certificate, then change her mind 10 yrs later? Could she wait untill the kid’s 18 then sue for back child support when she never asked for any in the first place? Does it make a diffence if she never even informed the him about the child in the first place?

Proof that all dictionaries are not created equal.

It’s “statute of limitations,” FWIW.

Even if there is no statutory limitation lachesmight be attracted if circumstances warrent.

You can’t sue for “back child support” if there was never a court order for someone to pay child support, AFAIK.

It depends on the state.

In some states, one can sue for paternity up to 20 years after the child is born, and child support in paternity cases is sometimes/often retroactive to the date the child was born.

So, yes, it is possible that someone could sue biodad for CS a few days before the child’s 20th birthday and biodad would have a 20 year CS arrearage to pay.

ETA: In the states I am personally familiar with, there are no defenses of laches or being unaware you fathered (or mothered, sometimes it happens) a child. If it’s your kid, it’s your kid, even if you were a sperm donor or you were defrauded, such as she lied about it being your kid, etc. The reasoning behind this is that CS and peternity are in the best interests of the child, and the mother or father cannot waive the child’s right to support by inaction or other error.



Back in 1995, the Court of Appeal in MacMinn concluded that child support “is an obligation which exists from the time a child is born”. Subsequent Court of Appeal cases, having taken this into consideration, decided that back child support, also known as retroactive child support, would be awarded only in “exceptional circumstances” having regard to the blameworthiness of the payor and the diligence of the payee in pursuing a remedy. This put the onus on the payee to pursue either obtaining support in the first place, or an increase of support if warranted. It also meant that provided the payor wasn’t acting in a “blameworthy manner”, such as purposely avoiding or under-paying support, it was unlikely that the Court would order retroactive support past the initial date of the application.

Basically in Canada, if the guy wasn’t being a dick he won’t get dinged for back support. If he tries to be cheap, serves him right. The payment tables are there. But generally, no you won’t go back from the time the request was filed.

see also

And here’s some USA law:

That article specifically says if income goes up, then child support goes up. What happens if income goes down? Is child support reduced accordingly?

If a child has recieved state assistance, then the state may collect back child support, even if the custodial parent does not.

I recall reading an article about paternity and DNA testing recently. Quite a few states have laws going back before DNA tests that said once paternity was established, it could no longer be challenged. The statute of limitations was 2 years for California, IIRC.

The crappy part was that the courts considered a “now show” to be conceding paternity. The article mentioned several people who had no idea they had been served papers, and suddenly found 5 or 10 years later they owed back paternity support.

In one case, the new girlfriend was so incensed at the papers she tossed them in the garbage without telling the “father”. Many years later, even DNA proof could not undo the presumption of paternity.

In another case, it was either an outright lie or mistaken identity - but the court claimed papers were served over 2 years before, therefore the case was closed, too late to contest the ruling. It seems that because that’s all it took, the department that served these papers, often the welfare department looking for reimbursement, was pretty lax about how they served them. Very old addresses from old driver license records were sufficient. No effort was made to track the person down. Dump the papers at the old address and wait 2 years, then start collection proceedings. Then, oddly enough they had no problem finding the person.