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Clashes of law can raise 'who's your daddy?' question

The 10 commandments weren't the first laws ever written. They could be called the most succinct. "Honor your father and your mother" is pretty declarative even if differences of opinion exist about what honoring means.

Sometimes, as we observed in an earlier post, the definition of father can differ depending on the context. Even when DNA proves that a man isn't the father of a child, the court could bind him with child support obligations. When questions of family law surface, the help of an experienced attorney becomes important to facilitate change.

An example of the kinds of clashes that can exist in the law may be represented by the Arkansas statute on the legitimacy of a child related to inheritances. One of its provisions states that any child born or conceived during a marriage is presumed the legitimate offspring of both spouses. That same kind of language exists in Iowa, and for a man there, it led to an unwanted legal fight.

A key factor in this story is the husband and wife are estranged. They haven't been together for 15 years. So you can imagine his surprise when the state sent him a letter earlier this year ordering support for a child born to the woman.

He knows the child isn't his, but because the couple never divorced, they remain married under the law. And Iowa law says a husband must support any child born to his wife.

It didn't help that the man had lost his job and didn't have the money to wage a legal battle. Fortunately, thanks to an online fundraising campaign, he raised the money he needed to present his case and earlier this month, the state released him from the support obligation.

Commenting later, the man offered the opinion that all of this should have been dismissed with a simple DNA test, but the law wouldn't allow that. As a result, he says he plans to continue his fight for change on behalf of other men in a similar situation.

Source:, "Man wins fight against court order to pay support for another man’s child," Tribune Media Wire, Sept. 23, 2016

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