When it comes to family law, the issue of what defines a parent can often be a delicate one. Many children in New York have non-biological parent figures, whether they are adoptive parents, stepparents, legal guardians or otherwise. When it comes to matters of custody and child support though, clarity in these issues is particularly important. In one recent case, a man has found himself paying support for a child who has been proven not to be his.

An appeals court is divided over the issue, as the man had signed a document in 1995, acknowledging himself as the boy’s father. He had never married the child’s mother, and was not involved in the boy’s parenting. His child support obligations were set at $50 a month, plus health insurance. However, he claims to have suspected since 1996 that he might not have been the child’s biological father.

In 2009, the payment obligation was increased to $369, when the child was transferred from the custody of his mother to that of a man named as his biological father. The boy’s legal father filed a petition against the increased support payments in 2011. He applied for genetic testing to determine the paternity of the child in 2012.

The testing showed that he was not the biological father of the child. Nevertheless, after prolonged dispute and varied opinions between the judges, the Nebraska Supreme Court came to the decision that he was still obligated to pay the child support, in light of the paternity documents he had signed.

It may have occurred in another state, but this case could just as easily impact a father in New York. It is important to note that there are various sides to what it means to be a father where the law is concerned. Biological paternity is just one part of this, so it is important for fathers to be aware of their rights. If you have concerns about your obligations as a father, an attorney may be able to guide you and help you reach a favorable outcome for yourself and your child.

Source: Omaha.com, “Court rules man owed child support, after tests proved he wasn’t father,” Martha Stoddard, May 17, 2014