I have a vague recollection of a song from years ago. The chorus was, "That's just my baby daddy." I never bothered to learn the words, but the song ended with a list of male names followed by, "Ain't your baby daddy." The song was irreverent, a little tasteless, but sticks in the head. After all, any family lawyer worth her salt has heard a similar refrain. In fact, at one point, when I walked into court the paralegal asked me, "Who's not the father today?"
Over more than a decade of practicing family law, I have found that paternity mistakes or outright fraud are more common than you think. It is no longer shocking to find that a man has paid child support for years for a child that is not his. Of course, in fairness, there are also fathers who have ducked out and dodged paternity for years for a child that absolutely is his. However, this issue really is more about the children than the parents. After all, the child is innocent in this mess caused by 2, 3, or more "consenting adults."
As I always tell my male clients, you must get a paternity test. I know that requesting DNA testing will not be popular. Heck, as a woman, I would probably go ballistic if I was asked to submit my child to one. However, in this day and age of paternity fraud, mistake, and big money child support, testing is crucial. You should request the test before acknowledging paternity.
Of course, if you later begin to suspect that the child you have claimed is not yours, you may be told that you are out of luck. That is where an experienced attorney comes into play. I had a client who was set to spend 2 years in jail for failure to pay support on 4 different child support cases. Not only was I able to get him out of jail, but we discovered that another man was actually the father of one of the children and had shared custody with the mother! If he had listened to conventional advice, he would have been stuck paying child support for years for a child that actually had another father.
If you have questions about your child's paternity, don't wait. Call us today at 610-874-1900 in Delaware County, PA or at 215-391-4300 in Philadelphia.
By Jacquie L. Jones
Join us on a journey of discovery as we explore issues of custody, criminality, and Probate especially in Delaware County, PA.