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Paternity and child support: an instructive case

We stress in today’s blog post what might be reasonably termed as a slippery slope regarding paternity, which is often a fundamentally — and sometimes, as noted below, contentious — family law matter.

As a lead-in to a news story that recently chronicles a flatly notable paternity case, we draw readers’ attention to a central point we make on the paternity page of our family law website at the Wellesley Law Offices of Lisa A. Ruggieri.

And that is this: Once paternity has been legally established, a father can be tasked to pay back support for a child that in some instances “can amount to tens of thousands of dollars.”

Texas resident Gabriel Cornejo can instantly relate — and in nightmarish fashion — to that reality and imposition.

And the reason why is clear. He was visited by a sheriff last year who cited a court order from 2003 mandating that Cornejo pay support for a child his ex-girlfriend said he fathered. Given that he had not made payments over the years, the levy he was slapped with amounted to a stunning $65,000 exaction.

Here’s what Cornejo found perplexing. He knew he was not the father. In fact, he immediately took a DNA test to confirm that fact.

And what he now finds even more perplexing is that Texas law apparently doesn’t care a whit that he’s not the father. It still wants the money.

What is centrally at dispute in Cornejo’s case is notice. Cornejo claims he never got word of the court order mandating his payments. If he had, he says, he would have immediately challenged it back in 2003.

One media report cites court documents that “suggest, but don’t prove,” that Cornejo was delivered a subpoena.

The case might reasonably serve as an admonitory tale stressing that questions or concerns regarding any aspect of paternity — for either a man or woman — should be raised without delay with a proven family law attorney having broad experience representing clients in paternity matters.

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