“I have always lived in California, yesterday I received a letter from the office of the Attorney General for the state of Texas notifying me that my child support case (which I was unaware of) was moved to a new office. This is the only communication I’ve ever received from them.
The mother listed is a woman (I was never married to) that I knew a long time ago but have not seen or heard from in over 6 years, the last time that I spoke with her she had let me know that she’d had a child but that she knew who the father was, that it was not me, and that she had a paternity test to show that it was his. To my knowledge she hasn’t ever attempted to contact me, I still live at the same address I did at the time, my cell phone number has changed but my home number has remained the same.
So now I’m freaked out and not sure what to do on many levels. I already have a son from a previous marriage with whom I am very involved, his mother and I worked out our differences enough to share custody. I’m currently engaged to a wonderful woman with a daughter of her own, and while I have a steady income, I’m still below the poverty level in a part of California that is considered poor.
Should I contact the agency who sent the letter immediately? Or retain an attorney to handle the communication? Since this is just to inform me that the case has been moved is it a bad idea for me to wait for some other information to come?
Should I tell my 11 year old son that he may have a 6 year old sibling in another state? I’ve already told my fiancé about the situation and she isn’t running for the hills yet. What do I do if it turns out I am the father of this child and support is more than I can afford? The very little disposable income I have is currently going to pay my way through my Master’s degree.
How would any sort of shared custody work in a situation where the parents live more than 1,500 miles apart?
Given that for the past 6 years I had no reason to believe the child was mine is it likely that child support will be retroactive to the date of birth?
If the mother purposefully lied to me about paternity and then disappeared for 6 years how is it that she can come back in and mess with my current life without receiving any sort of consequences?
Sorry for all the questions, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the situation and trying to keep my imagination from getting the better of me.”
First, it is entirely possible (perhaps even likely) that the mother filed for child support, and was required to list all men with whom she had had sex during the period of conception, and so that your information is part of the case record only for that reason.
That said, considering the distance and the elapsed time, you should find an attorney familiar with Texas (and California, possibly) family law, to be sure. The Texas attorney may advise you that it may be in your best interest to begin with a DNA test to ascertain whether the child is yours. If the child is yours and you cannot work out a support and visitation agreement with the mother outside of court, the Court will place the needs of the child over all else, and apply the statutory calculations to come to a fair amount of support. Once a child comes into the picture, the Court’s job is to look out for the child’s well-being, not even up the score between the parents. So, the first step is to consult with an attorney in Texas, and have them contact the office who sent you the letter and ask about the status of your case.