The New Jersey Supreme Court has upheld a lower court decision against a father who claimed that he should not have to pay child support to his ex-wife after discovering that the child was not his own. It is only the latest in a string of such cases.
The case involves a 10-year-old girl and a divorced couple in Hunterdon County New Jersey. The father submitted evidence that paternity tests showed that his ex-wife had misled him and that she had conceived the child with another man. He wanted to compel the disclosure of the true father and to end his child support payments. Yet, in the lower court decision, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Stephen Rubin ruled that such changes would not be in the child’s best interest — the standard in such cases.It is a tough standard since it will often be in the child’s best interest to have no change in his or her recognized parent — or possibly replacing a paying “father” or a non-paying real father.
What is troubling is that public policy demands that fathers and mothers support their offspring. Yet, the true father and this ex-wife may have succeeded in forcing such costs on a third party. Indeed, it is conceivable that the true father and ex-wife could get married, raise the daughter, and still force this man to support the child. That does not seem quite equitable.
The father in this case may have been hurt by simply waiting too long. Presumably, if such questions were raised earlier (and hopefully near the time of the birth) the result would have been different. Courts are reluctant to make such changes after the passage of such significant amounts of time.
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