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Should expectant fathers pay child support? This legislator thinks so

by | May 5, 2022 | Parental Rights, Paternity |

There’s a curious bill out of Guam pertaining to child support that we’re not sure is going to catch on, but it definitely provides some food for thought. Whereas child support typically starts when a child is born —once the courts are able to prove that the presumed father is actually biologically the child’s father if the parents aren’t married — this bill would make the expectant father responsible for payments while the child is still in utero.

What’s more, under the proposed legislation, payments would need to be made retroactively to a gestational age of just six weeks.

As the Guam Daily Post wrote, “Vice Speaker Tina Rose Muña Barnes has introduced legislation that would hold the would-be father of an unborn child responsible for financial support before the infant is born.”

The article went on to note:

“The Pregnancy Support Act of 2022 would allow a court, in consultation with the mother, to award child support payments while the child is still in the womb and retroactively up to the sixth week of gestational age,” according to a press release from Muna Barnes.

“The bill would further require expectant fathers to share the costs of pregnancy expenses. If paternity is disputed, child support payments and shared costs of pregnancy expenses would be paid retroactively once paternity is established.”

The idea is grounded around a solid and well-intentioned idea — that pregnancy is really the start of a child’s journey into life, and prenatal care and readying a home for a baby are essential steps in guaranteeing the health and welfare of a child.

However, one of the obstacles we can see in getting this bill to function as law is the issue of paternity. In a number of cases, it’s not entirely clear who the father is, as it’s possible that a woman might have multiple partners at the time she gets pregnant. The Texas Family Code has a series of specific provisions for determining paternity and then only establishing a child support amount and schedule based on the father’s employment and circumstances.

As we know from our work on paternity cases, it’s hard for presumed fathers to retroactively get reimbursement from the mother of a child if that person has given child support payments only to learn later that he’s not the father of the child.

The other question, of course, is how much money an expectant father should pay an expectant mother prior to the birth of a child. It’s clear that a newborn baby needs clothes, diapers, formula (if the mother isn’t exclusively breastfeeding), and co-pays for doctors’ visits. It will be interesting to see, as this legislation is debated, how the amount of child support will be determined and how it will be adjusted once the baby is born.

While this law’s not coming to Texas anytime soon, it highlights just how important and also contentious the issues around child support and paternity can be. If you’re dealing with any such issues and you’re looking for legal help with those, consider the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance. We’ve brought fierce, compassionate representation to a number of parents over the years in a wide variety of cases involving child support and paternity issues. In an initial consultation, we’ll go beyond just getting down basic info, providing you with a strategy to solve your legal matters with your goals and wishes at its core.