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Court rules non-biological father must pay child support

Most people in California would agree that a parent must financially support his or her child. However, there are those who likely have different opinions when the child is not the biological child of the parent. A recent out-of-state court has ruled that a man cannot seek relief from child support payments for a child who is not biologically his.

The case involves a set of parents, now divorced. Early in the marriage, the woman became pregnant with a child; her husband was not the child's biological father. However, she and her husband agreed that they would raise the child as their own. They would not seek to establish paternity against the biological father and would not tell anyone of the child's true paternity. When the baby was born, her husband signed the birth certificate.

When the couple divorced in 2014, the man agreed to pay child support for the child as well as two other children born afterward. However, the woman eventually told her son that her ex-husband is not his biological dad, apparently prompting the man to seek a support modification, arguing he should not have to support a child not biologically his. The court ruled that he must continue to pay support -- a decision that he appealed.

A Court of Appeals has recently upheld the lower court's decision. According to the majority opinion, the decision was guided by the doctrine of equitable estoppel. Whereas he would typically be allowed to seek relief, he convinced the child's mother that he would care for the child which deterred her from seeking to establish paternity. Thus, his current claim is barred because it is inconsistent with his prior conduct.

Being a parent is difficult. It requires a great emotional and financial investment. However, if questions should arise regarding whether a person should be required to pay child support in California, it may be necessary to seek court intervention. An attorney with experience with family law can help parents fully understand their obligations and lead them through court proceedings.

Source: theindianalawyer.com, "Man must continue to pay child support for son he claimed was his, court holds", Olivia Covington, Nov. 23, 2016

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