Disestablishing paternity under Iowa's child support laws
Posted on 03/28/2016 at 12:00 AM by Mary Zambreno
There’s a Davenport man who’s making national headlines for contesting a law that requires him to pay child support for a child he claims is not his. Joe Vandusen received a letter from the Iowa Department of Human Services notifying him that he is required to pay child support for his estranged wife’s one-year-old baby, even though he apparently hasn’t seen her in about 17 years. He was told that because they are still legally married, he would be held responsible for the child support. That’s because Iowa has a law that says that a man who is married to a woman is automatically presumed to be the putative father of a baby born of that marriage.
So how can Vandusen refute this presumption?
Iowa Code 252F is instructive on this issue. He will need to file a petition to disestablish, or written denial of, his paternity. The presumption of paternity may be rebutted only by clear and convincing evidence and to accomplish this, the father, mother, and child would need to submit to paternity testing. If the paternity test shows that the putative father is not the biological father of the child, the child support recovery unit is required to withdraw its action.
Vandusen’s complaint is that it is going to cost at least $2,000 to retain an attorney just to disestablish his paternity. But that’s nominal compared to the cost of supporting a one-year-old that isn’t his for the next 18 years.
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