Updated: Aug 10, 2021
“I’ve been paying Child Support but I don’t think I am the dad". My client, Carl, had been paying child support for quite a number of years for a child who, for a number of complicated reasons, he had not been having a relationship with. Information had recently come to light to suggest someone else was the child’s father. He wanted certainty. He needed to know.
This isn’t an uncommon scenario. I regularly get calls like this from men who are feeling uncertain about whether they are actually the father of a child they thought was theirs. Peace of mind eludes these men and in many cases, is accompanied by a very real grief.
If you find yourself in this situation, I believe it is important to resolve the issue sooner, rather than letting the uncertainty fester. My experience is that these issues don’t go away and are often more difficult to resolve the longer the situation is allowed to continue. Where a child has been believing for years that you are his or her father, the situation needs to be handled particularly delicately.
People often overlook the implications for their estate of whether they are the father of a child or not. On your death, a child of yours may bring claims against your estate if you have not provided for that child in your will. Resolving now who your children actually are can avoid disagreements and costly legal issues for your loved ones and your estate to resolve after your death.
Sometimes whether you are a child’s father can be resolved promptly, without the need for Court involvement, by having a DNA test. However, it is important the test is done by a reputable laboratory with a very secure process. The Court, Internal Affairs and IRD may not accept test results that aren’t undertaken in such a manner.
In Carl's case, the child's mother refused to agree to a DNA test so proceedings were brought in the Family Court to determine the issue of whether Carl was the child’s father or not. In such cases, the Court is likely to recommend DNA testing and, in some cases, will appoint itself a guardian of the child in order to ensure a child undergoes a DNA test. Once the DNA results are back, this usually resolves the issue.
For Carl, if the test had come back confirming he was the child’s father, there would have been issues to sort out about his ongoing relationship with the child. As it happened, the test showed he was not the child's father. We worked to have the child's birth certificate amended and to get IRD to refund Carl the child support he had paid.
Irrespective of the result of the DNA test and the emotions that came with it, Carl felt he now had the peace of mind that had been eluding him.
If you'd like to explore working with us on your family law problem, book a free, initial 15 minute consultation with us now.
Names and any identifying information have been altered to protect the privacy of individuals. The information in this blog is current at 30 July 2021. The information in this blog is general, educative information only. As such, it should not be relied on in place of getting your own legal advice.