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If A Paternity Test Reveals You Are Not The Father, Can You Stop Paying?

Thursday, 07 June 2012 00:00

New Jersey divorce lawyerQuestion:

If a paternity test determines I am not the father of a child, is it possible to stop paying child support?

I married a woman partially based on the fact that she convinced me she was pregnant with our child, but I have my doubts.

It appears I am the presumed father, but it seems like most courts just look for the man who can support the child regardless of who the biological father is.

Answer:

I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on New Jersey paternity laws where I am licensed to practice.

In general, there is a presumption that a woman's husband is the biological father of a child born during the marriage. Specifically, where I practice, paternity is presumed when:

1) The man and natural mother were married when the child is born or if the child is born within 300 days after the marriage is terminated;

2) The parties entered into marriage and the husband acknowledged paternity either in writing or by his actions;

3) The man and biological mother marry and the man acknowledges his paternity in writing at the local office of vital statistics, seeks to have his name added to the birth certificate as the child’s father, openly holds himself out as the child's father or is ordered by the court to pay child support.

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Where I practice, if genetic testing concludes that the presumed father is not the biological father of the child, child support and child-related expenses are terminated. Note that this is usually done prospectively as of the date of the genetic testing.

Some courts will not order a mother to reimburse child support payments made by the presumptive father before the test results due to the philosophy that the child should not suffer because of the mother’s deception.

If there is a court order for child support, once the presumptive father learns he is not the biological father, he should seek to have the order amended or vacated. However, depending on the laws of your state, a presumptive father may be required to continue paying support even if the DNA testing reveals he is not the father. 

Some states have time limits on when paternity can be contested. Other states rely upon the doctrine of equitable estoppel which is a legal principle that bars a party from denying or alleging a certain fact due to that party's previous conduct.

Whether the child support obligation of the father in this particular case should be terminated depends on the facts of the case as well as your state's law regarding this issue.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with a divorce lawyer in your jurisdiction.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including New Jersey Divorce Lawyer Christine A. Dolan, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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written by Gohan, December 28, 2012
I have a question. I was in jail and this girl said I was the father. They ordered me to take a DNA test. I never got results and I never heard anything from child support. Does this mean I am not the father?
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written by Jeffrey, March 27, 2013
How long can paternity be contested for in nj? I was married (now divorced) and have a daughter that just turned three and I have recently found out that I may not be the biological father, however I am court ordered to pay child support.

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