We have already established in previous posts on paternity that the state of Texas takes a very proactive stance. The reason for that is the desire on the part of the government to be sure that a child’s needs are being met and that the parents of the child are picking up as much of the cost of meeting those needs as possible.
Regardless of what you think your rights, roles and responsibilities are where paternity of a child is concerned, state law in Texas may hold a different view. To be sure that you know what the state expects of you and that you understand what you may and may not do, it’s important to speak with a knowledgeable family law attorney.
Failure to appreciate the scope of the law can leave a person in an unexpected bind if they are not careful, as a man in Pennsylvania has learned. His case seems to highlight why it’s important to be careful what you ask for because you may get more than you bargained for.
The crux of the case hinges on the divorce the couple went through. She was a single mother of twin sons when she married him in Serbia in 2005. They then moved to the United States. He never pursued legal adoption of the boys.
The husband and wife separated in 2009 and in 2012 she made plans to move to California. That’s when the ex-husband went to court to block her relocation and to seek partial custody of the children. His argument was that he had assumed the role of the boys’ father even though he had not legally adopted them and so had custodial rights. The mother’s response was to ask the court to require that he start paying child support.
Lower courts granted the man’s petitions, but rejected the mother’s. When the state’s Supreme Court got the case a majority of justices ruled that the man’s claim for rights was legitimate, but it also said that because of it, he should pay support — even though he was not the boys’ biological parent.