We never married, now what can be done about deadbeat dad?

My girlfriend and I have been going steady for a while now and have even talked about marriage. She has a three-year-old boy from a previous relationship although she was not previously married. The father of that child has never paid her anything and has taken little interest in being a parent and is a deadbeat. The whole situation makes me very angry. Is there any way we can get him to pay an amount for the child? What are the chances I could adopt him?

Answer: If your girlfriend was never married to the guy, her remedy at this point is to file a paternity case through the Kansas Parentage Act. This statute generally deals with ways to establish the rights of parents in situations where the parties were never married but had children together.

Your girlfriend will have to show that that her ex is indeed the child’s father. This can be established by a blood test or through consent of the parties.

Because the child is not an infant, a hearing will be required to determine if a blood test will be allowed even if the man agrees to take the test. This is sometimes referred to by attorneys as a Ross hearing, named after a famous Kansas Supreme Court case. The Ross Court ruled that a “district court must consider the best interests of the child, including physical, mental, and emotional needs.”

Once it is established that the man is the father of the child, the parties can move on to discuss child support, parenting time and custody. Child support is calculated according to guidelines from the Kansas Supreme Court and is based upon the gross income of both parents, the age of the child and a variety of other factors, including the parenting schedule.

If the parties are not able to agree upon a parenting schedule, the parties must first attempt to mediate their dispute. If custody remains an issue, the judges in Harvey County will order a Child Custody Investigation be completed and will generally follow the recommendations made in that report.

If the father has never paid child support and never had contact with the child even though he believed the child was his, it may be possible to terminate his parental rights through adoption upon your marriage to the child’s mother.