A reader asks if a biological father who has been deprived of establishing a parent-child relationship by the mother -- who is hiding behind her marriage to another man -- might later have a child support liability. The answer to the question is yes, there is a risk that this might occur.
Imagine being deprived of a father-child relationship with a child you know is yours. Imagine that many years go by. And then imagine that the mother divorces her husband, who then refuses to support the child and disavows paternity.
A case with similar facts, Opland v Kiesgan, 234 Mich App 352 (1999) was decided by Michigan's court of appeals in 1999. The mother, Ms. Opland gave birth to a child while she was separated from (but still married to) her husband, Mr. Craft. After the divorce, Opland sued the biological father, Mr. Kiesgan under the Paternity Act.
Kiesgan defended, saying that Opland lacked standing to sue him because the child was conceived during Opland's marriage to Craft and their divorce judgment did not make any determination that the child was not an issue of their marriage.
Opland arranged for Craft to consent to entry of an amended judgment of divorce that specifically provided that the child was not a child of their marriage. Then she refiled her paternity action against Kiesgan. Kiesgan again asked the trial court to dismiss the case because the child had been conceived during her marriage to Craft. Although the trial court did dismiss the case, Opland appealed, and the court of appeals held that Opland had followed the correct procedure in correcting the standing problem. You may read the Opand opinion here. Download Opland_v_Kiesgan
The court of appeals held that the amended divorce judgment was sufficient as a prior court determination to correct the standing requirement. Even though Kiesgan raised another legal defense, the COA wasn't buying it. That court said that there was little danger that the judicial process would be misused because DNA testing could prove definitively whether Kiesgan was or was not the biological father.
The really sad cases are those in which many years go by without the father having the chance to form a parent-child relationship.
What's the take away for potential "sperm donors" ? If you don't want the financial burdens of a child, use either abstinence or safe sex.