Will I have to pay child support for a child that isn’t mine but was born while we were married?

Jennifer Paine, Cordell & Cordell AttorneysQuestion:

My then-wife had a baby from another man while we were married and she was in the military with another serviceman. She told me that she put the child in my name so they wouldn’t get in trouble.

Now they want me to pay child support because they are running out of money. Will I have to pay child support for another man’s child?

 

Answer:

In Michigan, a man married to a woman at the time she conceives or gives birth to a child is presumed to be the father of that child – and is liable for child support – unless he disestablishes paternity AND is not the child’s equitable father. In other words, he has to show that (1) he is not the biological father and (2) he never acted as the biological father (by providing food, clothing and shelter, consenting to medical treatment, bonding, etc.) This is not as easy as it sounds.

The public policy in Michigan protects children’s presumed legitimacy and sources for support, and it is exceedingly difficult to prove that you are not a father and should not have to pay child support.

First, only certain persons can file a lawsuit to establish the child’s paternity. An unwed mother may. The State may (to collect State assistance). And someone may on behalf of an illegitimate child. But, a man does not have “standing” (the right to bring a lawsuit) to establish paternity for a child if the child’s mother was married at the time of conception or birth. This means, a husband whose wife has cheated on him cannot file a paternity lawsuit to disestablish his presumed status as the child’s father – which sounds like the predicament you are in.

However, the husband may file a divorce complaint and allege that the child born during the marriage is not his child. He must prove this by clear and convincing evidence (usually with a DNA test). In fact, if he does not raise the issue he will be conclusively presumed to be the father after the divorce!

Therefore, a husband may disestablish paternity by filing for divorce and proving that the child born during the marriage is not his child.

But, second, that is only half of the problem. A non-biological father may be responsible for child support if he acted as the child’s father. This is called the “equitable parent” doctrine. For example, a man who knowingly marries a pregnant woman and assumes the status of the child’s father, even though he is not, may be prevented from denying paternity. As another example, a man who raises a child, feeds and clothes and educates a child and otherwise holds himself out as a father and develops a relationship with the child may also be prevented from denying paternity.

If this sounds complex, that is because Michigan paternity law is complex. You should speak to an attorney immediately about your options, if any.

Be advised, although I am licensed to practice law in Michigan, I cannot give you legal advice without reviewing your case in full. Do not rely on this answer as establishing an attorney-client relationship, and contact an attorney immediately for legal advice and case-specific suggestions. Cordell & Cordell does practice in Michigan. Thank you for submitting your question.

 

Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims. Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

End of Content Icon

4 comments on “Will I have to pay child support for a child that isn’t mine but was born while we were married?

    Dna Test
    i have a question. my son is now 12 and if i were to get a DNA test because i was recently told that he wasn’t mines, would i still have to pay child support payments?

    http://www.mensrights.com/index.php/Articles/Paying-Child-Support-For-A-Kid-That-Is-Not-Mine.html
    It varies by state, but a non-biological father may be responsible for child support if he acted as the child’s father. This is called the “equitable parent” doctrine. For example, a man who raises a child, feeds and clothes and educates a child and otherwise holds himself out as a father and develops a relationship with the child may be prevented from denying paternity and thus responsible for child support. Again, it varies by state so consult a local mens divorce attorney for assistance. Cordell & Cordell offices: http://www.cordellcordell.com/offices

    I have a question.My wife and I are getting a divorce and she had a child born 3 months before we got together.The father of the child paid child support while we were together but I lived with her and the child knows me as Daddy.I did not sign any papers to make him legally mine but he inherited my last name.Do I have to pay child support if we are separated and the biological is still paying child support?

    i have a girlfriend when i meet her she was preganatand ive been there buying things for the baby and when she is born in 1 month she wants to give it my last name i dont know what to do because if it dont work out can she get me for child support

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>