Fathers in New Jersey may be interested to learn about a recently divorced Grand Rapids, Michigan, man who received a written order from a state court stating he owes $8,500 in child support for a child that isn’t his. The man had two young sons with his ex-wife and voluntarily pays child support for them. The man was unaware that his wife had given birth recently to a child fathered by another man a little less than nine months after the couple separated.
Although it seems unlikely, the order is legal. A Michigan law from 1956, called the Paternity Act, states that any child born during a marriage will be supported by the father figure who could best financially provide for the child. The law purposely disregards actual parentage. The law works in reverse as well, denying a biological father rights even when he voluntarily steps up to claim fatherhood and pay support.
In New Jersey, the Dissolution Unit handles custody matters that include paternity testing, child and spousal support, modifications of orders and all other matters regarding parenting. If the matters of child support, parenting time or custody were settled as part of a divorce, any request to change must be filed with the Dissolution Unit.
Even though New Jersey doesn’t have the same laws as Michigan, a New Jersey family law attorney could fight for the rights of fathers and children. They may be able to use their legal skills to ensure that the proper DNA testing process is followed. They could also represent a father for a change at the Dissolution Unit if the father can’t afford the amount of child support or wants more parenting time.
Source: New Jersey Courts, “Non-Dissolution Cases (child support; custody; paternity; parenting time),” 2013.
Source: Huffington Post, “Child Support Law Requires Man To Pay For Another Man’s Child“, July 29, 2013