The joy of becoming a father can be somewhat dampened when the news is unexpected and from a past relationship. While you may be at first stunned, most of the time the natural reflex to "do the right thing" kicks in. Before you accept paternity, however, you might want to think twice to ensure that you aren't obligating yourself to 18-plus years of child support for a child that is not yours. Read on for more information about the dangers of accepting paternity claims without proof.
Admissions of Paternity
Unfortunately, many fathers don't even know that they have been named the father of a child until they are contacted by a human services agency. To apply for aid for a child, in most cases, the mother is required to name a father, and that same social welfare agency will then seek support for the child.
Other times, the potential father is presented with a birth certificate or other admissions of paternity that names him the father. Make no mistake and take these documents very seriously, since signing an admission of paternity could obligate your continuous support for 18 or more years. In some locations, support is ordered to continue while the child attends college. Admitting paternity is a serious matter, and the family court system is set up to protect and support minor children, so a failure to pay child support as ordered could result in the garnishment of wages and even jail time.
Are You Really the Father?
Providing financial support to a child that is not proven to be your own may be well-intentioned, but remember that you might be depriving the real father of that experience. In addition, if you at some point come to learn that you are not, in fact, the biological father of the child, you will still likely be obligated to continue paying support. The family courts are extremely reluctant to disturb not only the financial support system that has been in place for years, but they are also charged with keeping the best interest of the child as a priority. The best interest of the child, in most cases, means not tampering with the father-child relationship that you have formed with the child.
There is much more at stake than just child support payments; agreeing to be a father means a lifetime of support and a commitment to the child's well-being for an extended period of time. To prevent any chances of uncertainty, insist on a DNA test to confirm the paternity of the child, regardless of the mother's potential ire and protestations.
For more information, contact Kleveland Law or a similar firm.Share