New Law Gives Obligated Men Some Room to Breathe

By September 24, 2010Child Support

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C posted in Child Support on Friday, September 24, 2010

Imagine a man who vowed his life to another but was asked for a divorce after only a few years of marriage. The divorce is emotional for him because he has lost the person with whom he thought he was going to spend the rest of his life. He finds solace in the fact that he still has the daughter they raised together for 2 ½ years. He has to make large monthly child support payments, but that is okay because he has visitation rights. Then, the man finds out that he is not the father of the child and the court refuses to modify or rescind the ordered child support.

This is the story of Michael, a Kansas City father whose case is pending in a family law court. A new law was enacted that may give Michael and others like him some assistance. The new law makes it easier for fathers to request DNA testing to determine paternity and set aside child support payments for children that are not their own.

Scientific advancements have made it increasingly easier to determine paternity, and the new law has changed the statute of limitations for paternity contests in connection with child support orders. Where men used to have only one year to file a challenge, beginning December 31, 2011 they will have two years.

A challenge to a support order can be costly, but as one family law attorney states, “The cost for testing and the cost of paying a lawyer to get it started is fairly minor compared to paying child support for 18 years.”

While the new law offers men more leniency and opportunity to contest paternity, it does not automatically end their obligation to pay child support. Under the law, a judge must determine what is “in the best interest of the parties” and may order continued support payments even after a man proves he is not the father of the child. The court looks at a possible father-child relationship, the man’s ability to pay, the age of the children and any other factor that is relevant. The law affords the opportunity to end payments but is not retroactive. One judge put it bluntly when he said, “You’re forgiven what you owe, but you don’t get a refund.”

Source: The Kansas City Star “Challenging child support payments has become easier under new Missouri law” Mark Morris 9/8/10