Responsible noncustodial parents in Ohio are happy to pay child support, as long as the payments are set at a fair amount — and the children receiving the payments are really theirs. But due to arguably arcane paternity laws in some states, occasionally courts order people to pay child support for children with which the “parent” has no blood relation.
In a recent example, an Iowa man has been ordered by the state’s Department of Human Services to pay child support for his estranged wife’s baby. The man says he has had virtually no contact with his wife since they separated at least 15 years ago, though they never actually divorced.
The wife had a child about a year ago. Under Iowa law, when a woman married to a man gives birth, her husband is presumed to be the child’s legal father. So when the man called DHS and offered to take a paternity test to prove he was not the father, he was told that it does not matter, WOWT-TV reports. He says he cannot afford child support or a lawyer to fight the order in court.
The purpose of laws like this one is to ensure that children born to married women are not deprived of financial support. But it can lead to absurd results, as it seems to have in this case.
One lesson readers can take from this story is that not settling family legal matters can come back to haunt you. In this case, never divorcing his wife, or obtaining a legal separation, has caused this man a great deal of problems.