Establishing paternity is often one of the first steps of determining child custody arrangements. The state of Georgia currently allows paternity to be established by signing a voluntary paternity acknowledgement or by the parents of a child being legally married at the time the child is born.  Though genetic testing is an option to verify that a child biologically belongs to both parents, it is not unusual for couples who are married or who have been together for a long time to feel that a DNA test is unnecessary. Unfortunately, some adults who did not obtain a DNA test prior to finalizing child custody and support agreements found out the hard way that paternity should never be taken for granted.

You are Not the Father

It is not unusual for a man to not consider requesting a DNA test if he feels paternity was already established. However, in some situations a father requesting a paternity test may find his request denied by an offended mother. Since both parents must consent to a paternity test, unless the test is court ordered, the refusal of the other parent may become a major stumbling block. However, failing to get a paternity test could lead to agreeing to financially support a child who is not biologically yours. Finding out that you are not the father of the child you are ordered to pay child support for is not enough to absolve you of legal and financial responsibility.

Stopping Support Payments

Once a paternity test is performed and it is discovered that child in question is not the biological child of the father ordered to pay child support, many assume the child support order is no longer valid. In reality, once a man has acknowledged paternity by signing an acknowledgement or the order is established based on parents being legally married at the time of the child’s birth, ending child support obligations is not always easy. Before a man can stop paying child support, he must get the court to vacate the child support order, but even after filing a motion to set aside the determination of paternity, there is no guarantee that relief will be provided.

The Consequences

Failing to pay child support as ordered, even when the child is not biologically yours, can result in serious consequences. A man whose wife gave birth to a child while the couple was separated, but still legally married, began receiving demands for child support and medical cost reimbursement after the divorce was finalized. Even though the child’s biological father was supporting the child, the legal husband of the child’s mother was ordered to pay over $8,000.00 in back child support. Other men have found themselves facing jail time for owing over $50,000.00 in past due child support for children that are not biologically theirs. Being held legally responsible as a father can result in wage garnishments, the seizure of bank accounts, and incarceration.

Getting Help from a Georgia Family Attorney

If you have been ordered to pay child support for children that are not biologically yours, it is important to receive the assistance of a skilled paternity attorney. The attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum are prepared to help you protect your rights and avoid the repercussions associated with claiming responsibility for a child without properly confirming paternity. Contact one of our conveniently located Atlanta area offices today to schedule your private consultation.