Non-Biological Father’s Responsibility to Support a Child

Imagine this scenario: John and Jane are married and have a child, Junior. Three years after Junior comes along, the marital bliss ends and the couple end up getting divorced. During the divorce, Jane tells John “oh, by the way, Junior is not really your child. I had an affair before Junior was born, and the real father now wants Junior and I to live with him, but you need to provide financial support to Junior until he turns 18.” After a DNA test reveals that Junior is not John’s biological child, John decides there’s no way he is going to be financially responsible to support another man’s child.

Not so fast!

Presumed Father

The law in California says a man is a child’s “presumed parent” if:

  • He was married to the child’s mother when the child was conceived or born;
  • He attempted to marry the mother (even if the marriage was not valid) and the child was conceived or born during the “marriage”;
  • He married the mother after the birth and agreed either to have his name on the birth certificate or to support the child; or
  • He welcomed the child into his home and openly acted as if the child was his own. This concept is called “parentage by estoppel” and means that the court can find that a man is the legal father, even if he is not the biological father, if he has always treated the child as his own.

The presumptions that apply to married couples also apply to those who entered into a registered domestic partnership after January 2005.

So, as hard as it seems to believe, a man could end up being on the hook financially to support another’s child if he is determined to be the “presumed father”. If you are facing the possibility of being a presumed father, call the Law Office of Rick D. Banks for a free, no-obligation consultation to find out what your rights are.

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