I just found out I was named father of a child I never even knew about.

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 just found out that you have been named as the father of a child you did not know about, this can be a complex legal situation with important implications for child support, parental rights, and custody. Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, you may need to take different steps to protect your rights and interests.

Here are a few general things to keep in mind:

  • If you are not sure whether you are actually the father of the child, you may want to consider getting a paternity test. This can help determine whether you are biologically related to the child and clarify your legal obligations and rights.

  • If you are the father of the child, you may be required to pay child support. Usually, this involves making regular payments to the child’s custodial parent to help cover the costs of raising the child. The amount of child support you will be required to pay will depend on a variety of factors, including your income, the custodial parent’s income, and the needs of the child.

  • In some cases, you may also be entitled to seek custody or visitation rights with the child. This will depend on the specific laws and procedures in your state or country, as well as the individual facts of your case.

Given the complexity of these legal matters, it is generally a good idea to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the legal process and help protect your rights and interests.

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.

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