In our practice we see all kinds of family dramas unfold. Our clients face frustrating obstacles and confounding laws, and we take pride in being able to guide them through.
One truly astonishing law on the books in Washington and several other states requires a man to support a child born to the wife even when it’s been proven —possibly years later, and even with conclusive DNA testing— that he’s not the biological father.
It should be noted that this rule of “imputed father” only applies to children born during the marriage and if the parentage is not objected to within 2 years. Prior to the two years expiring, the father can petition to have the parentage refuted.
You read that correctly. Even though DNA evidence shows that a man is not the father, he can be court ordered to pay child support for the child.
Washington Child Support Law
This situation is quite possible in a number of states. Under Washington law, a man has 2 years to deny paternity of a child born to his wife during their marriage. After that time, he is considered the father and obligated, in the event of divorce, to support the child.
Now very few men have reason to doubt the paternity of their wife’s newborn child. So most men are very unlikely to think of verifying that paternity when all is well in the marriage. Two years is a very narrow window, and after that closes, the husband is on the hook for support whatever the results of the paternity test.
This is the type of thing that can blindside many men involved in a divorce. The truth about paternity may not come out for years after a child is born, and sometimes never does. In the event of a divorce, this has serious financial repercussions for the man who has been assuming that he was the father. By law, he is still required to pay support even if it is later found that he is not the biological father.
Certainly, if there were a close relationship with that child, most men would have no problem with continuing to help him or her financially. The issue arises when there is no such relationship —the wife is restricting visitation or for whatever reason there is no contact with the child.
At that point, many of us would be inclined to surrender parental rights, correct?
A reasonable idea under the circumstances, but not allowed when no one is ready to step in and assume those rights.
So if the actual biological father has no interest in playing a more active role, then the man who is the “imputed father” in the eyes of the law can’t avoid paying support by giving up parental rights.
How This Colorado Child Support Case Impacts You
This entire scenario is playing out in Colorado right now. A 48 year-old man has been court ordered to pay child support for a 15-year-old girl who he thought was his daughter until she reached the age of 11. Now he knows that he is not her biological father, and still has to pay child support even though the mother is preventing him from seeing the girl.
Meanwhile the biological father is not interested in stepping up to assume parental rights for the girl, so there’s no option to shift responsibility for support over to him. You can imagine the sort of stress and frustration that would arise in dealing with this kind of injustice.
This is one example of the unique challenges faced by men involved in divorce proceedings. It illustrates our reasoning for developing a network of attorneys across the state geared specifically toward helping men during divorce. It’s a complex area that demands focused attention.
Of course this situation is rare. In fact it sounds more like a daytime drama than reality. But the truth is, it does happen. And the point is, it takes specialization to handle this sort of complex case.
Protecting Your Rights in Washington
At Divorce Lawyers for Men, we can cut through a lot of red tape and help our clients to navigate the sometimes-treacherous waters that a man encounters during a divorce. We appreciate the unique situations with which men have to deal with, and we choose to focus our efforts on them.
Our website and blog include information on a range of topics related to divorce: asset protection, custody options, military divorces, alimony and others. We have a forms library, a divorce guide for men, and recommended resources.
We’ve developed our expertise on the special issues confronting men in divorce cases over 35 years of practice, and we work with an extensive, highly qualified network of attorneys that specialize in divorce for men.
So, while the law can be a confounding and illogical arena, our clients can feel confident that they have the best available team in their corner with Divorce Lawyers for Men. Connect today.