A man in Iowa at first thought it was a joke when a letter arrived from the state ordering him to pay child support for a 1-year-old born to a woman he hadn’t seen in 17 years.
But it was no laughing matter.
The case came about because, as The Daily Mail reported, the man was still legally married to that woman, his long-estranged wife. The pair had never formally divorced. In Iowa – just like in Indiana – a woman’s husband is the presumed father if:
- He and his wife were married when the child was born;
- The child is born no later than 300 days after the marriage ends.
The father in that case spoke to the state agency, explained the situation and offered to take a paternity test. However, the state agency informed him it would not be so simple. His only option, she said, is to “de-establish” paternity. That means he’s got to hire and attorney and take the matter to court. And in the meantime, he’s going to be paying child support.
It may seem nonsensical, but the law was written to ensure that children would be protected. But of course, infidelity is a reality in many unions. And then of course, there are situations like this in which spouses are long-estranged.
This case makes a strong argument to avoid putting off divorce. Beyond this example, some reasons you may want to avoid a long-term separation:
- Lack of control over expenditure of marital assets;
- Ample opportunity to hide assets;
- Divorce settlement may ultimately be less if either of your financial circumstances change;
- Spouse could move out-of-state or out-of-country, complicating legal matters;
- Alimony laws in your state could change;
- If your spouse gets into trouble financially, you may be liable too.
And then, of course, there is the matter of future relationships and future children.
When it comes to paternity, there have been many Indiana child support cases in which men have been expected to pay for children who are biologically not their own because the law presumed they were the father.
Some examples of this include:
- Parents not married with no formal establishment of paternity, but father has been informally supporting child and holding child out as his or her own;
- Parents are married – or in the process of divorcing – but have not yet finalized that divorce;
- Parents are divorced and father is paying child support, but now has reason to believe the child is not biologically his own;
- Paternity has been established by means other than a formal DNA test and now father wants to challenge paternity with a formal test.
In the first scenario, the father generally won’t be ordered to pay unless a paternity test establishes he is the biological father. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be required to pay support unless he chose to do so.
In the other scenarios, the father may have to request a paternity test and after that, file a formal request to terminate the child support order and ask that the child not be considered a product of the marriage.
Keep in mind, though, courts generally will not overturn a finding of paternity after two years of being established, no matter what the circumstances.
If you have concerns about establishing paternity, de-establishing paternity or arranging for child support, contact our Gary, Indiana paternity attorneys.
Indiana Family Law Attorney Burton A. Padove handles divorce and child custody matters throughout northern Indiana, including Gary and Hammond. Call Toll Free 877-446-5294.
Man protests law requiring him to pay child support for another man’s child, March 24, 2016, By Tribune Media Wire
More Blog Entries:
Betancourt v. Betancourt – Indiana Child Support Arrears Dispute, March 11, 2016, Gary Paternity Lawyer Blog