So you discover that your girlfriend or ex-girlfriend is five months pregnant.  She tells you the baby isn’t yours.  Maybe she even tells you that she had a DNA test.  You want to know the truth.  Here’s how to properly handle things legally.

  1. Don’t freak out.  The reality is that you can’t get a paternity test until the baby is born.  So save up for an attorney and get in touch with one a month before the due date.  At that time they can file for a court ordered paternity test.
  2. Don’t listen to your ex.  One caller to our office was told that his ex said she took a DNA test while pregnant.  It is possible, but not likely as it would require sticking a needle in her and possibly harming the baby.  And even if she did that, it’s not a court ordered test.
  3. Don’t sign the birth certificate until you know for sure you are the father.  If you do and it turns out that you aren’t the baby Daddy, once 75 days pass you are on the hook for all parental responsibilities including child support.
  4. Once there is a court ordered paternity test, if you aren’t the father then the case is over.  If you are then you have to think about custody, visitation, support, parenting decisions, etc.  This stuff can’t happen until the child is born.
  5. Nothing gives one parent the right to be the primary caretaker over the other.  But if you aren’t the primary custodian of the child, you will pay 20% of your net take home pay for child support plus have of any unpaid medical expenses and half of any daycare expenses.

 There is of course a lot more to know, but this is the nuts and bolts.  The first tip is certainly the most important, but they are all relevant.  And if you have any questions or concerns you can contact us at any time.
Written by Michael Helfand