Portland, TN asked in Child Custody, Child Support, Divorce and Family Law for Tennessee

Q: Will she be able to get back child support. Even though she intentionally hid my child and their whereabouts. Not on B.C

Wife left almost 4 yrs ago. Weeks before giving birth to our son. I was away on military orders. She moved to a different state had him and didnt put me of the birth certificate. Nor would she tell me where they were or even his exact birthday. She has just recently popped back up with a new baby (has done the same to this babys dad also). Since she has told me where they were I have started buying diapers cloths food ect.. She has recently filed dor families first and was told that paternity would have to be determined. My question is can she go back to his birth for back child support even though we are still married and she left with no communication to be able to take care of my son. Ive asked since birth to be put on his certificate so i can put hin in my military DEERS and on my tricare insurance. I also would get random messages from her while she was gone telling me she would sign divorce papers as long as i wouldnt sign birth certificate or press for visitation. I said no.

2 Lawyer Answers
Paul E. Tennison
Paul E. Tennison
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Brentwood, TN
  • Licensed in Tennessee

A: I recommend you consult with an experienced divorce attorney. My understanding of Tennessee law is child support cannot be ordered while parties are married unless there is a hearing where the Judge orders that in a divorce proceeding. The child support date would start the date the parties separated or the date of the court's order. In most cases it will not be retroactive to the date of the child's birth when the parents were married. It is possible that she could get child support backdated to the date of the child's birth. Yet, I think this is unlikely based on the facts you presented. For one thing it seems that you have provided some support. Most likely, you do not have to sign the birth certificate to have parental rights as the Father since you were married. You are presumed the Father, yet that presumption can be overruled with DNA results.

I recommend you consider resolving this now with a divorce rather than allowing this to continue to be a problem. It doesn't seem like you should want to stay married to someone that left you 4 years ago. One of the grounds for divorce in Tennessee is living apart from your spouse for more than 2 years which you meet. Good luck.

Paul Ylvisaker
Paul Ylvisaker
Answered
  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Sierra Vista , AZ

A: Being married at the time of the birth of your child, makes the child presumptively your child in every state I am aware of. You have enough information to get a paternity order, which can also include an order to include you on the birth certificate. One of your bigger hurdles will be finding her to serve her with a paternity action to obtain the order. Contrary to the guidance below, child support can be ordered under the Social Security Administration's IV-D program, implemented and enforced by each state by the designated agency. The parties can be married and only need to be living separately for the obligation of child support to be triggered. State statutes vary, but you may also be liable for what Arizona calls past care and support (child support) for a period of time (up to three 3 years in Arizona) during which you have been separated, but there is no child support order in place.

For the foregoing, I suggest you focus your efforts utilizing the services of your state's child support services (You can look up the State of Tennessee's child support services agency on the internet). They may be able to find her through interaction with other states if your wife is receiving any sort of state or federal benefits anywhere; not a certainty, but an avenue to pursue.

One of the challenges you will have in filing and obtaining a divorce, is that the action should be filed in the state where the child resides, which you indicate you may not know and she may refuse to disclose. There are mechanisms to obtain a divorce by default - state specific as the prior gentlemen noted - but that will most likely not be able to address the issues concerning legal decision-making, parenting time, and even custody; child support will be based solely on the respective incomes, parenting time of non-custodial parent, other children in the household, and a few other factors. Child support will be established if you use the state agency, along with paternity for the minor child.

As has been noted, you will need an experienced divorce attorney, and someone with a military background would be helpful. Try local legal assistance office for list of referrals in your local community.

best of luck and thank you for your service.

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