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Child SupportNon Biological Father Liable for Child Support

April 24, 2007

Robert Ambrogi in his Law.com Network Blog details the case of a man who learned during his divorce, that he was not the father of a child born during the marriage.   Notwithstanding the fact that he was not the child’s biological father, he was ordered to pay child support.  

. . . .through a DNA test 16 months after his divorce, Richard Parker learned that someone else had fathered the 3-year-old boy. Facing court-ordered child-support payments of $1,200 a month for 15 years, he immediately turned to the courts, claiming fraud by his wife. His case took him all the way to the Florida Supreme Court, which issued its decision in February in Parker v. Parker. Williams tells what happened:

"The Florida justices ruled 7-0 against Richard Parker. The Court ruled Parker must continue to pay $1,200 a month in child support. Parker’s child support payments will total more than $200,000 over 15 years to support another man’s child. Unfortunately, however, Florida has a one-year statute of limitations to prove fraud after a divorce, and Parker didn’t file in time."

So, what would happen if this was a New York case?   The man would be responsible for child support.  A recent line of cases provide that where a “father,” who acknowledged or in any way accepted paternity of a child he later learns was not his, will be equitably estopped from denying paternity for child support purposes.  

While this may lead to unfair cases for the “wronged” father, the underlying policy is intended to protect the psychological and emotional well-being of the child.  Certainly, the child would be devastated if he/she is disavowed by his “parent.”

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