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An increasing number of cases are turning up in which a man confirms that he has been ordered to child support for a child that is not biologically his offspring. A Colorado lawmaker is considering a new law to help such men.
DNA Testing, Maybe Too Late
The advent of DNA testing that proves (or disproves) a child's parentage has resolved thousands instances of contested paternity — sometimes at a point in time that is considered too late by family law courts. In many states, when a mother contends that a particular man fathered her child, a man has a limited window of time to contest the paternity, such as only before the couple's divorce is final, or within a number of months or years after the child is born.
Only the Mother's Word Often Used
Some county child support agencies have arranged to garnish men's wages for child support based only on the mother's word about the alleged father. In other cases, even when DNA testing establishes that a man is not the biological father of a child for whom he's been paying support, a judge has ruled that the support must continue.
New Legislation Being Considered
The unfairness of the system prompted Colorado State Senator Shawn Mitchell to investigate new legislation that would help such wrongly accused men. "The bill would say no matter how much time has passed, no matter what opportunities a man may have had or missed evidence that proves he is not the child's father…if that is the truth, then he will be released from the support obligation to that child," says Sen. Mitchell.
Thousands of Dollars of Support for Someone Else's Kids
For example, Dylan Davis, a resident of Denver, was married and his wife had twins. They divorced soon after, and Davis paid more than $1,000 per month in child support for six years. Suspicious friends eventually persuaded him to take a DNA test, and the test proved that he was not the biological father of the twins.
Despite the DNA evidence, the family court judge ordered Davis to continue paying the child support and has held him responsible for about $32,000 in back child support. Davis noted, "If you don't contest paternity before a certain age, it's too late, you are now the father…a man on death row could be freed with a DNA test, but not in the case of child support."
Are you paying support for a child that you suspect is not yours? Contact an experienced family and paternity law attorney today for help.