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Q) I just found out that I was named the father of a child I never even knew about. How can that happen and what can I do about it?
A) If you have received papers naming you as the father of a child, and providing information about attending a hearing, contacting the child support agency or some other tribunal, or other action that you must take, it is very important to follow up as required by the document you received. Check with the child support agency to see how to request genetic testing, or to learn about paternity establishment in your state. There are cases in which a man can be determined to be the father of a child if he was “properly served” notice of a paternity hearing but did not go. What constitutes “proper service” is determined by the state – it may be in the form of a registered letter, a notice delivered to the person’s legal residence, or even a notice published in the newspaper. Check with the child support agency in the state where paternity was established to see what can be done. If the paternity was established by fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact, it may be possible, depending on state law, to challenge the paternity finding.
Also, there are cases in which the alleged father is misidentified – if names are closely similar, for example. There, too, your best information about resolving this will come from the state or tribal child support agency if it was not provided in the notice that you received about the paternity.