When we think of child support, we typically consider a situation where a couple has been married, has a child, and have gone on to divorce, with one of the parties then being required to pay child support. A necessary corollary to this scenario is that we presume that the child is the child of the man (mother’s are pretty much guaranteed) of whom child support is being requested.
Imagine your surprise as a father receiving a letter demanding more than $8,000 in back child support for a child you did not father? It happened to a man in Michigan. Apparently, he had separated from his wife. She then become pregnant by another man, and gave birth to the child, but not before her divorce was final from her husband.
The problem for her now ex-husband is that Michigan’s paternity law was written in 1956, and, like most states, including Illinois, presumed that a married woman’s child is always fathered by her husband.
This was in the days when a blood test would have been the only way of identifying a father, and if both men had the same blood type, would not have been conclusive. The state opted to make it easy and avoid lengthy court battles over paternity.
The law has not been updated to match the more fluid social arrangements found today for parents and the availability of DNA testing, which can identify biological fathers with much greater certainty than a blood test.
After he began to contest the request, the state dropped the request. Nonetheless, it points out the potential paternity issues that can arise before, during and after a divorce.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Child Support Law Requires Man To Pay For Another Man’s Child,” July 29, 2013