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The child is not mine. Can I stop paying child support?

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2024 | Family Law

When a child is born during a marriage, it’s typically presumed that the husband is the biological father unless clarified otherwise, of course. Consequently, should the marriage end in divorce, the court would expect both parents to be responsible for the child’s day-to-day needs. This is spelled out in the child support order. And if the court orders you to pay child support, it’s in your best interest that you take this directive to heart.

But what happens when, several months or years down the road, you discover that you are not the child’s biological father? Can you stop paying child support? And, can you seek a refund for you amount you’ve already paid in child support?

It’s all about the best interests of the child

First of all, you cannot, on your own accord, decide to stop paying child support. That is the court’s call to make. Remember, child support order, just like child custody and visitation, is founded on the principle of the best interests of the child. As such, the court will rarely terminate a child support order if there is no clear direction regarding how the child’s financial needs will be met. This is especially true if the court establishes that the child strongly depends on you, both financially and emotionally.

But what if the real father is known?

Sometimes, the child’s biological father can be located. In this case, they may be directed to take a paternity test by the court. If the test comes back positive, then the court may consider ordering them to pay child support. They may also be granted parenting time. That said, the court will rarely reimburse you past child support payments.

Child support can be a tricky subject when uncomfortable discoveries come up. Understanding California child support laws can help you safeguard your rights and interests when addressing this subject.