Can I recover child support that I have paid after finding out that the child is not actually mine?
From time to time cases do arise where a person (in these type of cases – it is the “father”) has been paying child support under an assessment by the Child Support Agency (CSA) and later finds out that they are not actually the child’s father.
In that circumstance – can the non-biological father recover the money that they have paid from the mother?
The short answer is yes! But (and there always seems to be “a but” these days) you cannot just rock up on the CSA’s doorstep with your hand out and demand to be reimbursed – there is a process and that process requires you to make an application to Court.
To bring that application you will need to show that:
You have paid child support to a person (and in this example it is the child’s mother); and
That you are or have subsequently become not liable to pay the amount to that person (the child’s mother).
If you can tick those two boxes you can pass go …. but you will still need satisfy the Court that it would be just and equitable for an order to be made to reimburse you for the monies that you have paid by way of child support when you were not liable to do so.
There are a number of considerations that the Court must take into account when deciding whether to make an order to reimburse you money. Those considerations include, but are not limited to things like:
whether the payee or the payer knew or suspected, or should reasonably have known or suspected, that the payer was not the father of the child;
whether the payee or the payer engaged in any conduct that has directly or indirectly resulted in the application for administrative assessment of child support for the child being accepted by the CSA;
whether there has been a delay by the payer applying to Court once that person knew, or should reasonably have known, that he or she was not a parent of the child;
the relationship between the payer and the child; and
the financial circumstances of the payee and the payer.
The good news is, that the Court are making orders for the repayment of monies paid in circumstances where there should never have been a liability to pay.
But every matter is different and has its own set of facts, and there may be circumstances in your case (as unfair as it might seem) that might result in the Court deciding that it is not legally fair to order the reimbursement of monies.
For example – the financial circumstances of the parties to the proceedings will be a very important consideration particularly if any money that a Court might order a person to repay will place a burdon upon the mother which might cause a significant detriment to the standard of living of the child.
If you find yourself in a situation like this, my number one recommendation for you is that you do not delay in going to see a lawyer. Go as soon as you become aware that you are not the child’s father.
Once of the difficulties with these type of cases is that the longer you go without doing anything, the more difficult it can be for you to successfully recover any money from the child’s mother.
So if you have found yourself in this situation, and you are not sure what you need to do, going to see a solicitor should be your next step.
A solicitor will be able to look at your case and give you an indication as to whether a Court might make an order to reimburse you what you are out of pocket.
Obtaining advice in the early stages of a matter like this could save you thousands of dollars as the Court will not always order the reimbursement of monies.
So my number 1 tip for you in these types of cases is that you consult with a solicitor immediately.
Do not sit on your hands and wait – waiting too long to do anything may be costly!
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