I was a minor when my child was born to my ex-girlfriend. When I went to court for what I thought was to give the child my last name I instead was ordered to pay back child birth expenses.
They are threatening to charge me interest on this bill and intercept my tax refund.
Is this possible for the state to require I reimburse the medical costs by taking my tax refund?
I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Wisconsin divorce laws where I am licensed to practice.
The paternity process has two steps.
The first step is the adjudication of paternity. That is when the court actually finds the alleged father to be the legal father of the child.
The second step is setting the terms of the paternity judgment. The court makes orders regarding legal custody, physical placement, and payment of future child support, past child support, birth expenses, and health insurance coverage and expenses.
Although you were a minor at the time of the child’s birth, you are subject to repayment of birth expenses and even a potential child support order because you were adjudicated as the legal father of the child.
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When setting the terms of child support or repayment orders, the court takes into consideration the financial situation of the parties.
The court requires the parties to complete a Financial Disclosure Statement, which outlines a person’s income, assets and debts. The judge may even ask questions about employment status and work history.
When the state provides benefits for a minor child and/or pays the cost of the child’s birth, Child Support Enforcement seeks to be reimbursed by the non-custodial parent.
A tax intercept is an available mechanism for collecting these expenses and the state’s authority to do this is derived from statute, at least where I practice. The fact that your taxes will be intercepted shows that you were employed last year, have the ability to earn income, and are therefore responsible for paying this obligation.
Although the state will typically seek reimbursement from the legal father for half of the birth expenses, there are arguments you can advance that may reduce or eliminate your obligation to pay towards those expenses.
If you do not agree with the terms of the order that was entered and feels that it was unjust or in error, and if the initial hearing was before a judge, then where I practice you may request a De Novo Review.
A Motion for De Novo Review would be filed and your case would go before the judge, much like an appeal, and all of the issues would be reviewed. The deadlines for filing a De Novo Review Motion are very soon after the hearing and you should check the local court rules for the county where the proceedings took place.
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.