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How Paternity can Affect Your Child Support Case

By Jeffrey M. Salassa

father and son waiting in the office of Clinton Township paternity lawyers

Separation with children, be it legal or through divorce, is an increasingly common phenomenon in the modern world. About 13.7 million parents identified in the 2011 U.S. Census had custody of 22.0 million children under the age of 21, while the second parent lived elsewhere. The top five reasons for divorce in the U.S. are communication problems, financial problems, abuse, loss of interest, and infidelity.

The last issue is one that can cause problems not only for the party, but for child custody attorneys, child support lawyers and divorce attorneys, especially if the identity of the father is in dispute. A father can fall into several different categories when a child support or child custody lawyer is attempting to determine paternity.

Acknowledged fathers – An acknowledged father who is declared when a child is born to unmarried parents but paternity has been established either by the father’s admission or the agreement of both parents. Acknowledged fathers are required to pay child support.

Presumed fathers – A father is considered a presumed father unless proven otherwise under a variety of circumstances. Paternity will be presumed if a man was married to the mother when a child was born or conceived, if a man was attempting to marry the mother when a child was born or conceived, if a man was married to the mother and put his name on the birth certificate, or if a man simply claimed the child as his own and raised them. Presumed paternity conditions differ from state to state, but presumed fathers must always pay child support.

Equitable parents/fathers – A child custody attorney may argue that a parent/father is equitable if said parent/father and child have a close relationship and identify as parent/father and child regardless of biological relation. This is often used in same-sex couples, and the equitable parent will also be required to pay child support.

Alleged fathers – A child custody attorney can also pursue alleged fathers for child support. Alleged fathers are unmarried men who impregnate an unmarried woman. If a Court determines that the alleged father is in fact the actual father, they will be required to pay child support and may also seek custodial and visitation rights.

Stepfathers – Stepfathers are only required to pay child support for non-biological children if they legally adopt them.

If you are unsure as to your standing in a paternity related case, talk to the experienced Macomb County child support attorneys at Iafrate & Salassa.

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