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If the child isn't yours, should you have to pay child support?

Though we may still muse about the child support plight of the fictionalized man in Kanye West's 2005 hit "Gold Digger," a real life case of unknown parentage left one man paying child support for 16 years before he learned that his son was not his. But despite proving this to the courts, a recent decision could have him paying child support but not to the boy's mother.

Although this case played out in the Nebraska Supreme Court recently, the court's decision is one that could have far-reaching consequences. That's because it deals with a very real question that could be asked in any courtroom, including here in Arizona. The question at hand is such: should a person be forced to pay child support even after they have proven that they are not the biological parent?

Let’s take a look at the case and you can decide for yourself.

In 1995, a year after the child was born, the man signed a notarized paternity document. Similar to the CS-127 Acknowledgement of Paternity, which can be signed by unwed parents here in Arizona to establish paternity, the document the man signed made him the boy’s legal father.

By court order, the man paid child support to the boy’s mother for 16 years despite having a suspicion that the boy was not his. During this time though the boy was removed from the mother’s custody and placed with a man the woman claimed was the boy’s biological father. Around this time, the state sought to increase the support amount. This was when the man learned from paternity tests that the child was not his.

So the question remains: should he still have to pay child support? Unfortunately, even the courts are split on this issue. In a Minnesota district court decision, the paternity established in the notarized document was thrown out after the genetic testing confirmed he was not the father, meaning he did not have t pay child support. But according to the Nebraska Supreme Court, the court should not have done this so easily and ruled that the man should have to pay.

Because of this split decision, it’s possible that the man may need to appeal to a higher court in order to get clarification on the issue. Whether the man intends on doing this or not, we do not know.

Source: The Omaha World-Herald, “Court Court rules man owes child support despite DNA tests,” Martha Stoddard, May 17, 2014

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DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC and founding attorney DeShon Laraye Pullen received many prestigious honors, including: Small Firm of the Year, Family Law Litigator of the Year, selection to Arizona Super Lawyers and a Superb, 10.0 Avvo rating.

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