A paternity test proved I am the father of a child, though the child’s mother listed another man on the birth certificate.
The child is now a teenager and I have suddenly been ordered to pay child support in addition to paying four years worth of retroactive child support. The mother also wants me to pay back child support from more than four years ago.
I do not know this child and want to stop paying child support since I have no relationship with the child or the mother. How can I stop paying child support?
In the state I practice in (Texas), there is a rebuttable presumption that retroactive child support not exceeding the amount that would have been due under the child support guidelines for the proceeding four years is reasonable and in the child’s best interest.
However, this presumption can be rebutted with evidence that the man knew or should have known that he was the father of the child and was evading the establishment of a support obligation. Tex. Fam. Code § 154.131(c)(2).
Thus, if the child’s mother wants to try and obtain retroactive child support spanning back more than four years, she will need to present evidence rebutting the presumption. In order to do so, she will have to show that the man knew or should have known that he was father of the child and attempted to avoid a child support obligation.
If this can be shown, than the court can award retroactive child support back to the date that the father knew or should have known of the obligation. See Tex. Fam. Code § 154.131(d). If this cannot be shown, than the father will only be responsible for past child support going back up to four years prior to the order.
Once it has been established that a man is the father and he is ordered to pay child support, this obligation ends if: (1) the child reaches 18 or graduates from high school; (2) the child dies, (3) the child begins active service in the armed services, (4) the father and mother marry, or (5) the parent-child relationship is terminated.
Applicable here is the termination of the parent-child relationship. A suit to terminate the parent-child relationship is appropriate when a parent wants to voluntarily relinquish his or her rights; however, such is only granted if it is in the best interest of the child.
A decree terminating the parent-child relationship is a final judgment and, absent a motion for new trial or appeal, it cannot be modified. The decree will end that parent's legal rights regarding the child and will terminate all future child support payments.
However, even if the parent-child relationship is terminated, the termination does not absolve the former parent's liability for child support arrearages that accrued prior to the termination. Thus, the former parent may still be responsible for paying previously ordered retroactive child support.
To answer your question, in order to end a current obligation for child support, the parent-child relationship will need to be terminated, but such will only be granted if it is in the best interest of the child at issue.
Thank you for submitting your question for more information on this topic or to obtain more specific answers to your situation please contact a Texas attorney. Please be advised that my answering of this question does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.
Cordell & Cordell has men's divorce lawyers located in 18 states.
Jennifer Hankinson is a Staff Attorney in the Dallas, Texas office of Cordell & Cordell, where she practices domestic relations exclusively. Ms. Hankinson is licensed in the state of Texas. Ms. Hankinson received her bachelors’ degrees in both Finance and Political Science from Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California. She later received her Juris Doctor from Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington, where she graduated Cum Laude.