Paternity & Child Support

Has anybody heard of the case in Pennsylvania of a man who found out that his son was not biologically his, so he stopped paying child support to his ex-wife? Both the Pennsylvania Suppreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld rulings that stated evidence of paternity was not to be allowed into the child support hearings.

Apparently this is not a unique case because under common law it is presumed that when a married couple has a child, the man is indeed the father of the child.

In the case I mentioned, the man cut off all ties with the child in question because he feared that if he appeared attached to the child the courts would consider him the legal father (which it turned out they did anyways). This is the part that I am confused about. As a mother, I could never see, even if I found out that somehow my son was not biologicaly my own, ever cutting off contact with him. In this case the child was four years old when his father discovered that he was not his own and up until then he had been having regular visitations. Of course, I do not know how it would feel to experience such an enormous betrayal, but still…can you imagine how that little boy must be suffering?

So, is this law (that the man married to a women is the father of children born during the marriage) fair? Or is it further punishing men who’ve been betrayed by a cheating wife? It seems like a lose/lose situation no matter how you look at it.

BTW, there is an article about this on page 50 of the November Playboy in case any of you bought it for the, ahem, Jesse Ventura interview.

tatertot wrote:

Well, certainly not if the man is married to women as you say. Heck, even Utah had to abolish its polygamy laws before the U.S would admit it into the Union. Now if he was only married to one woman, that might be different.

(Sorry for the spelling flame, but I couldn’t resist. :wink: )

Sorry about that spelling error, I guess I shouldn’t try and post so late at night!

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” Albert Einstein

Is the law fair? It depends whose point of view you consider.

To the child, the law might seem fair. After all, the child already considers this guy his father.

To the father, the law might seem unfair, for obvious reasons.

If the mother decided to break her marriage vows and was careless or devious enough to become pregnant as a result, she bears most of the ethical responsibility for this problem, in my opinion.

But whenever a marriage breaks up and children are involved, someone is going to get hurt emotionally. The children can’t be blamed for the breakup, but they’re most likely to suffer the most pain. Both the husband and the wife must consider the consequences of their marital failures in the lives of the children they are raising.

From this perspective, I think the common-law assumption merely reflects the reality of the situation. When a husband and wife raise a child together from birth onward, the husband is automatically the child’s father (even if another man is the sperm dad). If the husband later discovers that the child is not biologically his, it does not alter the past family relationship.

If the husband decides to cut off contact with the child after such a discovery, what does that say about the nature of his earlier relationship with the child when he thought he was the biological father? If the man is blameless in all this, and if he builds a father-son relationship with the child, it is wrong (in my opinion) to abandon the child. His is still the father, and the genetic material in his son’s cells doesn’t mean anything.

I agree that the DNA in the boy’s cells do not mean anything signifigant from an ETHICAL standpoint, but I have questions about this man’s LEGAL responsibilities for two reasons:

  1. This child presumbably has a biological father somewhere. Does that man have no responsibilities? If I am a man and want to have irresponsible sex with women, should I stick to the married ones so that I never have to pay child support? I don’t think you could make both men pay child support.

2)If a man marries a woman with minor children, and later divorces her, he does not have to pay child support for those children unless he adopted them. (IN which case, they ARE his children)

I do agree that ethically this man should still want to support and love his child–But I don’t think he should be legally compelled to.

If you were the child, who would you want as a father?

IMHO, the divorced (non-sperm) father should retain the right to visitation, but the biological father should have to pay the support. That should satisfy all the legal and ethical issues.
Let the tramp mom wrangle with the dead-beat dad over the money while the ‘father’ and son have a nice day at the ballpark.

Rysdad wrote:

Let the tramp mom wrangle with the dead-beat dad over the money while the ‘father’ and son have a nice day at the ballpark.


Actually, in the case I mentioned, after the “original father” stopped paying child support the mother did sue another man for support - turns out the kid wasn’t his either! After she lost that case, she took the first father to court to reinstate child support. Twisted, eh?

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” Albert Einstein

Sorry, messed up the quote.

While I can not imagine how devestating it must be for the fathers to find out that their children are not biologically theirs and that their former wives were cheaters, my biggest concern is for the children. It seems like they are also being punished because their mom made a mistake (to put it nicely).

I was also wondering, could the same law be used in custody battles against the mothers? For example, mom & dad are having a custody battle. Mom makes the shoking announcement that Jr and Sally are not really Dad’s, tests back this up. But since she was married to him when the children were born, they are legally his and she cannot use the DNA tests in the trial. Has anybody ever heard of a case like this?

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” Albert Einstein

Tatertot, it happens all the time, or it used to, anyway. Occasionally you will hear of cases where the woman gets pregnant and gives birth during her marriage, then wants a divorce so that she can be with the father of the child, who is not her husband. For whatever reason the husband chooses to go for custody (no doubt believing that nuture makes a daddy, nature makes a father), and mom contests it by “proving” with DNA tests that hubby is not the father, lover is. Nevertheless, the law – at least in California, but I’m willing to bet in almost every state – is that the man who was legally married to the woman at the time is deemed the father, unless he (1) did not have access to the mother, or (2) is sterile. Actually, might not be sterile, might be impotent – I’m too lazy to go look it up. At any rate, he is entitled to be treated as the child’s legal father.

These laws pre-date scientific advances which can reliably determine a child’s parentage, and are based on a public policy of protecting the family unit and the children, and of providing a “bright line” of certainty regarding who is the father of a child.


If they changed the law to allow the fathers who are not dna related to disown the kids, wouldnt this spill over into the whole sterile hubby/wife goes to a donor area?

And if a man ‘adopts’ another mans child, this makes him legally responsible for support right?
well, couldnt this be likened to marriage? That is a legal contract, like adoption…BUT we also allow provisions for common law marriages, why not the same assumptions for a man raising children?

In my opinion, the man who raises you is your dad, not necessarily the man whose sperm hit the egg.

I saw a 20/20 or something on the case described in the OP, and I was so disgusted! All that poor boy knows is dad doesnt want him anymore. How can a man just shut off his feelings like that? I have heard of cases where the dad fought for custody when it wasnt even his biological kid…THAT is how a real DAD should feel.

Oh, and I think the dad in the OP had a little ‘help’ coming to his decision from his new wife…who was featured extensively in the interviews going on about what is BEST for the kid etc…what a total bitch! She just wants all his income for her own ‘nest’ and she doesnt want to have her future kids share the dad with another womans child. Shame on her. The whole thing makes him look like a real heel.And as far as the mother being a tramp…well if I had to life with a cold hearted bastard like that, I would take whatever comfort and love I could find.

Like I mentioned a while back,I do wonder about paternity. My friend is raising a ladys daughter for 7 years,he;s not the biological father. But for all intents and purposes he is. I wonder if he will be able to keep her if the “mother” tries to get her back! The guy is married,with 2 stepkids;she is single with her son,the girls brother at home.

orangecakes, the law sides with the mother & the father, not someone who ‘pretends’ to do the job.

This was a problem when this technology first became available. Again, I can only speak for what the law is here in California. Here, there is a specific statute which states that if the husband consents to the artificial insemination by a donor, he is deemed legally to be the father, and the donor has NO paternal rights (even if they could figure out who he is).

There was a lawsuit on this issue a few years ago, taking it one step further: the hubby was sterile, the wife had good eggs but couldn’t carry to term. They got a surrogate and impregnated her with wife’s egg fertilized by donor sperm. Before the kid was born, wife and hubby got a divorce. Wife wanted custody of the kid, hubby didn’t want to have to pay child support, and surrogate said “hey, I agreed to do this to give a child to a loving set of parents – if you’re divorced, I want the kid!” Talk about a legal mess!

I believe that what happened was that the court ruled that the kid was the legal offspring of wife and hubby, surrogate was cut out of the picture, and hubby had to pay support.

Yes it does. Adoption, at least of a minor child, makes the adoptee legally the child of the adopting parents, entitled to full inheritance rights, support rights, etc., and cutting off the legal rights of the natural parents.

Amen! “Any damn fool can be a father; it takes someone special to be a daddy.”


kellibelli says:

I agree with the first sentence. How can the husband turn off his feelings like that? “I loved my son for 4 years, but I found out that he doesn’t have half of my chromosomes, so now I view him as a stranger.”

But I don’t agree with what the wife did. If you’re not happy with someone, divorce them, don’t go have a child by someone else and stay married.

Jacques Kilchoer
Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains.

Handy,the guy is not Pretending to do the job! He’s raised her from birth! She only met the girl once.


In the Playboy article there was a case where a man and his wife were having fertility problems. During this time, their marriage fell apart. She went to a sperm bank and well, got herself pregnant with quadruplets. Yikes! Well, the husband (who claims he didn’t know the kids weren’t his) objected to selective abortion on religious grounds. He stuck around to help her during the pregnancy, then after the babies were born they divorced. He claims to have found out the kids were not his from a credit card receipt from the sperm bank. She says he told him. Since, in the state they live in(I think Pennsylvania), DNA evidence is not admissable, he was ordered to pay 60% of his $200,000 income in child support.

I hope I got all the details right, I can’t find Playboy (damn husband).

In this case, it didn’t matter wether the wife had, in fact, told her husband about the sperm donor. According to the state’s law, he was the father.

I’m wondering, in states where DNA evidence is permissable, if a lot of divorcing fathers get DNA testing done to try and get out of child support. Could you imagine how traumatic that would be for the children, esp. if they were old enough to know what was going on?

Kellibelli and Melin are absolutely right, Fathers are much, much more than DNA.

BTW, I asked my husband about this, and he said that if we ever got a divorce and he found out that our son was not his, he would continue to be his father and pay child support. What a guy! (although he did give me a rather suspicious look after I asked.)

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” Albert Einstein

I know a 25-year-old who has been living for the past four years with a woman. She was about eight months pregnant with another guy’s kid when they met. He was there when the boy was born, fathered two more little girls on her, and they have a fourth on the way. He treats all three kids equally, except for being just a little stricter with the boy (who is a headstrong little kid, like his genetic father) and for the obvious age difference. When they fought and briefly broke up, he was ready to fight for custody…of all three.

I know what DNA testing would reveal about paternity. But I also know who that little boy’s real father is.

I don’t agree that the sperm donor issue is analogous with the situation in the OP. In the OP the father was “defrauded.” He was made to believe something not his was his. In the case of a couple using a sperm donor both parties know that the child isn’t the fathers. There is no fraud involved.

I agree the whole situation is heartless all the way around. I can see the man’s point of view. Can you imagine finding out a child isn’t yours then having to face the prospect of supporting this child for 14 more years and maybe paying tens of thousands of dollars for college, all while maybe having to deny your own kids (which may be born) the same opportunities. And while this is going on the biological father is getting off scott free.

It is really sad all the way around.

I think it is unfair to take away someone’s contact with their child and extract child support money from them without good reason for restriction of contact such as criminal neglect or abuse. Custody, by default, should be shared equally, as should support responsibilities.

Having said that…I don’t understand how so many men can walk away from their kids as if they were their ex-wives’ toenail clippings.

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