Sometimes, becoming a father can catch a man by surprise. If you have recently been informed that you are the father of child from a past relationship, you may be so shocked and confused that you are not sure what to do next. Before you agree to anything, it's vital that you have a complete understanding of the ramifications of admitting to being the father of a child when you are not certain that you are. Read on for more information about what could happen if it turns out that you are not the actual father after all.
Admitting to Paternity
Some fathers only find out that they are fathers through contact from a human services agency, where the mother has applied for aid and named you the father of the child. You can rest assured that the aid agency will be seeking child support from you for the child to reduce the impact on the welfare agency.
The next step might be the presentation of a document where you admit to being the father of the child. You should understand that signing this admission will make you responsible for child support for the next 18+ years (in some states child support continues through the college years).
Once you have signed an admission of paternity, you will be expected to financially contribute to this child's upbringing. The family court system takes all issues about minor children extremely seriously, and takes the best interest of the child into consideration at all times. This goal is reflected in the punishments possible for those who fail to pay child support as ordered; you can expect your wages to be garnished and it could even result in jail time.
But Are You Really the Father?
Many a well-intentioned man has admitted to fatherhood and supported a child for years without ever seeking proof. You are to be commended if it is your nature to be generous and trusting, but if you find out that you have been paying child support for many years to a child that is not biologically yours, you may not necessarily be off the hook. The courts are very reluctant to alter existing arrangements that have, so far, greatly benefited a child. You may have a DNA test to prove that you are not the father, but the courts may decide that you should continue paying, particularly if the biological father is unable to support that child. In any case, you should not expect a refund of your child support payments under any circumstance.
Not Always About the Money
The admission of paternity and years of support goes beyond a financial obligation. Many times, a father-child relationship has formed, and these bonds are not easily or justly broken. Additionally, your admission could be preventing the real biological father from forming a relationship with their offspring.
Your insistence on a DNA test before you admit to paternity can help prevent a lot of heartache and misappropriated obligations. Contact a family law attorney or firm such as Ivy Law Group PLLC for assistance in paternity issues.