While this is a tricky subject, it is not uncommon. When a couple who is in a romantic relationship has a child, it is presumed that the man in the relationship is the dad and his name is included in the birth certificate. This makes him the child’s legal father. And it is on this basis that child support is determined in the event of a divorce or non-marital romantic split.
So what happens if you welcome a child only to learn later that you are not the child’s biological father? Will you still be bound by the child support order?
The best interests of the child take precedence
First of all, it is important to understand that a child support order is binding until the court determines otherwise. You can, however, petition the court for a modification. However, based on your relationship with the child (that is, if the court establishes that the child was financially and emotionally dependent on you), the court might uphold the existing child support order.
But what if the biological father can be traced?
If the child’s biological father can be located, then the court may impose upon them the obligation to pay child support. In this case, your child support obligation will cease. However, as long as you remain the legal parent and, thus, the only father the child knows, you may be obligated to continue paying child support.
That said, you may be directed by the court to take a paternity test to prove that you are not the biological father. Thereafter, you may petition for child support modification or have it terminated altogether. Unfortunately, you will not be reimbursed for past child support payments.
Safeguarding your interests
Child support can be a heavily contested issue, especially when you learn that a child is not biologically yours. Seeking legal guidance to learn more about Alabama child support laws can help you protect your interests when exploring the possibility of modifying an existing child support order.