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“That’s Not My Child!” Dealing with Paternity Issues During a Divorce

“That’s Not My Child!” Dealing with Paternity Issues During a DivorceYou and your spouse have separated and there is no question about whether you’re heading for divorce. It’s been a long road and you both have concluded that you deserve to be happy. It’s just not going to be with each other. Your attorneys advised the both of you against beginning to date until your divorce becomes final but you trust each other not to pursue an adultery claim. After all, you want the same thing – freedom.

You both begin to put your toes back into the dating pool while your divorce case works its way through the system. It isn’t an overnight process but there isn’t any real urgency. Several months in you get the call from your soon-to-be ex-wife – she’s given birth. It turns out she found a new love before you did, and you have no problem with that. Heck, maybe you’re even happy for her until you learn that there may be a child support issue.

Paternity in North Carolina can be problematic

In North Carolina, when couples are married, any children born during the marriage are legally presumed to be the husband’s biological children. This means that if you have not yet finalized your divorce and your wife gives birth to another man’s child, you are under a legal obligation to support that child. You cannot be forced to be a part of the child’s life or seek any kind of child custody or visitation arrangement. However, expect that child support will be calculated and you can be held in contempt of court if you are under an order to make those payments but fail to do so.

The way to resolve this issue is by legal determination of the putative father. Once this is accomplished, the child may be legitimized as the other man’s child under the law.

What is a putative father?

According to Black’s Law Dictionary, a putative father is “the alleged biological father of a child born out of wedlock.” So the putative father is that man your soon-to-be ex had a child with who just hasn’t been legally determined by the court to actually be the biological father all because you’re still married. You would think this should be a pretty simple situation to resolve. As you see, it can become complicated enough to require a family law attorney to step in to fix it as expeditiously as possible.

Does North Carolina have a putative father registry?

In order to push forward with replacing yourself with the putative father, you have to be able to locate him. All states offer parents the opportunity to voluntarily acknowledge a child’s paternity until the age of 18. While some states maintain what’s known as a putative father registry, North Carolina handles it a bit differently.

The Department of Health and Human Services Social Services Division allows putative fathers to file an Affidavit of Paternity. These affidavits are maintained in a central registry. Because North Carolina does not maintain a putative father registry, you may need to explore all of your legal options in this scenario in order to best protect yourself.

It may not seem fair but if your wife has a child on the way with another man, you need to understand your options before you are required to become financially responsible. The experienced Charlotte child support attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC can explain the legal ramifications of the situation and help you find a satisfactory way through it. To schedule your private consultation in our Charlotte, Boone, Concord, or Weddington offices, call 704-321-0031, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page.