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Nebraska questions paternity in absence of DNA proof

Child support at first glance should be a simple process. If you father a child, you are responsible to support that child until he or she becomes of legal age. A recent case in the Nebraska Supreme Court says a judge from Minnesota was wrong when he ordered a man to pay child support even though he was not a child's father.

Critics of the decision say the ruling judge went beyond the legal constraints of his authority in the decision to overturn the authority of another court. The final decision to adjust support payments becomes a battle of what constitutes fatherhood.

In this case, while not the biological father, the man was bound by his legal responsibility to the child. The ruling resulted an outpouring of various reactions.

One legal expert called the decision a triumph of "form over substance."

Even fellow justices felt compelled to express reluctance to condone such a decision, which they termed a "demonstrated falsehood."

The subject of the case, a Minnesotan, had signed an agreement before a notary asserting he was the father of the child. This took place prior to widespread use of DNA. The man committed to providing health coverage for the child and paying $50 a month in support. He took no action to modify the agreement, even when the Nebraska courts raised his support payments to $369 a month.

When the child was placed in the home of the biological father, the legal father requested a DNA test to prove he was not the biological father. The court nonetheless agreed with the previous finding of paternity, and the judge saw no reason to modify the ruling based on genetics.

While no King Solomon decision, this ruling can be questioned if the case returns to the county of origin. Paternity issues are not always simple, as seen in the above case. In Nebraska, if you require assistance in family law cases of child custody or support, it is in your best interests to speak with someone who can help you to protect your biological or legal parental rights.

Source: Daily Journal, "Editorial, 5/24: Searching for child support justice" No author given, May. 24, 2014

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