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How to Ask Someone to Take a Paternity Test Paying Child Support: Paternity Laws

Paying Child Support: Paternity Laws

When it comes to your rights when paying child support, paternity laws remain a key factor. While laws are changing in many states, until recently a man was named paternal father of a child born from his marriage, regardless of DNA testing. As a result, women could collect child support payments from her ex-husband, even if he was not the child's father.

It's a common belief that a man who is married to a woman before or after an infant's birth is naturally that child's father. When it comes to determining child support, paternity tests have only recently become a factor. Even then, not every state requires paternity tests to prove parentage.

Cases of Paternity Fraud

In 1945, courts ordered Charlie Chaplin, the famed actor/comedian, to pay his former lover hefty child support payments for her young daughter. The problem is that Chaplin was not the child's father. Though he was paying child support, paternity tests proved he couldn't be the father.

After learning his son had cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease in which both parents pass down a certain cystic fibrosis gene, Texan Morgan Wise saw a doctor to find out which gene he was carrying. Test results shocked him when he learned he was not a carrier at all. His son was not really his son at all. Further testing showed of his four children, only one was his. Yet, court systems required him to keep paying child support payments and his visitation rights disappeared because he'd informed his children that he wasn't their father.

One of the most disturbing cases occurred in New Mexico. A woman forged a birth certificate, social security card, baptismal records and persuaded her adult daughter to file the paperwork at the hospital where she worked. The daughter also used her own blood for the paternity test. The supposed father paid $20,000 in child support knowing he'd had a vasectomy and his ex-wife had a tubal ligation years before this child was born, all for a child that never existed.

Carnell Smith of Georgia discovered he was not the father of his ex-girlfriend's baby. Despite this, he paid over $120,000 in child support, paternity tests meant nothing to the court system. His experiences led him to a long running battle to change paternity laws.

Child Support: Paternity Tests as Evidence


Laws are changing, but not every state allows DNA testing as evidence in child support cases. The following list provides states that have made changes to paternity laws or are working to change them.

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Ohio
  • Wisconsin
Sadly, the list is very small. Worse, many states require fathers to question paternity within two years of the child's birth. If a woman deliberately waits to file for child support, paternity cases may go ignored.