Child support is often considered one of the most important issues in a divorce proceeding. But, many women in North Dakota who never married are raising children by themselves. What about these single mothers who were never married to the child’s father? Do they have a right to seek child support from the child’s biological father?
The short answer is “yes,” but the mother must go through what can be a lengthy and emotionally difficult legal process. A necessary first step is to identify the father. Some unwed fathers will admit to fathering the child, while others will steadfastly deny parentage. In the latter case, the mother may need to bring a paternity action to prove that the man is the father of the child in question. Our last post covered the mechanics of proving paternity, including the use of DNA tests. Once fatherhood has been established, the mother may need to begin a case to compel the father to pay support.
The court’s power to require a father to pay child support is broad: determination of a child support obligation is appropriate in any matter where the child does not reside with both parents. The essential inquiry in a support proceeding is the financial status of both parents.
The mother must show her income and monthly living expenses. The father must make a similar showing, and the mother can compel the production of financial information if the father refuses. The court will then use the child support guidelines set by statute to determine the amount of child support that can be awarded. Either party can appeal the court’s order if they disagree with the judge’s conclusions.
Any woman who is raising one or more children without financial support from the father may wish to consult a family law attorney for advice on whether a proceeding to enforce payment of child support would be worthwhile.
Source: childsupport.dhs.nd.gov, “Chapter 75-02-04.1 Child Support Guidelines,” accessed on May 5, 2018