retroactive child support

Last week, the prolific Judge Lawrence R. Jones, J.S.C. shed some much-needed light on an essential question; namely: can the court retroactively set an obligor’s child support obligation to a date earlier than the filing date of an actual motion to establish child support in the reported case of Kakstys v. Stevens?  According to

We’ve all read the salacious gossip at the local food store news stand when popular celebrities bear children out of wedlock or famous couples battle it out in a nasty divorce and heartless allegations fly.  Even in those widely publicized cases, it can be an uncomfortable and awkward situation for any parent to question the paternity of a child.  I will admit that in my experience it is not a common occurrence for a parent to question the paternity of a child.  That’s not to say it doesn’t happen.  What happens when that question arises?

In NJ and many other states there’s a presumption that the name listed on a birth certificate is the father of a child.  There is also a presumption that a father who assumes paternity by allowing their name to be listed as the father on a birth certificate along with participating in the upbringing of the child, making financial contributions for the child and representing himself to the public as the child’s father is that child’s father, whether DNA says so or not.  These cases are factually sensitive and depend upon a number of factors for consideration, such as:

-When paternity is questioned?

-Who is questioning paternity?

-Is there another man submitting himself as the biological father of the child?

-Does the mother know who the biological father is?

These are just a few factors to consider.  Recently, the Appellate Division, in the unpublished decision of Qian v. Wang, A-1873-08T1, decided October 14, 2009 addressed this issue.

In Qian, the parties had been married for 13 years before the father questioned paternity of the parties’ only child in the midst of their divorce.  After DNA testing, there was no dispute that the child was not the biological child of the father.  The mother testified at trial that she believed the father was the biological parent of the child until the DNA tests revealed otherwise.  The trial judge found this testimony to be credible.  Also at trial, the father testified that at the child’s birth, he had suspicions about paternity but did nothing to pursue those suspicions.


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