Legal Corner: What are my rights if I think my child isn't mine? - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Legal Corner: What are my rights if I think my child isn't mine?

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QUESTION: I’m trying to get child support from my ex. He is self-employed. He says that his income tax returns will show that he made no money in 2017. I believe that he is not being honest and is somehow hiding or not showing all that he is really making. How can I prove this?

ANSWER: Generally speaking, child support is based on the child’s needs and the obligor’s ability to pay. The child’s needs are almost always determined by child support tables found at Louisiana Revised Statue 9:315. The child support tables are very similar to tax tables. The mom’s gross income and the dad’s gross income are added together and then applied to a support table. The table then says how much the child support will be. Pay checks stubs, income tax returns, and the like are the usual indicators of a person’s ability to pay. It is sometimes more difficult to assess a person’s ability to pay with the self-employed. Louisiana Revised Statue 9:315.1.1 provides guidance for determination of income when a party alleges that the other party is under reporting or concealing income. The statute reads as follows:

§315.1.1. Determination of income; evidence

A. When a party alleges that income is being concealed or under-reported, the court shall admit evidence relevant to establishing the actual income of the party, including but not limited to the following:

(1) Redirected income. (a) Loans to the obligor by a business in which the obligor has an ownership interest and whether the loans will be repaid. There shall be a presumption that such loans are income of the obligor which may be rebutted if the obligor demonstrates there is a history of similar past loans being made and repaid in a timely manner with market interest rates, or the current loan is at market interest rates and is fully paid in accordance with a commercially reasonable time. The amount by which a commercially reasonable repayment amount exceeds the amount actually repaid shall be treated as income.

(b) Payment made by the obligor or by a business in which the obligor has an ownership interest to a person related by blood or affinity in the form of wages or salary. There shall be a presumption that such payments are income of the obligor, which may be rebutted if the obligor demonstrates there is a history of payments preceding the separation of the parties or the filing of an action to establish or modify child support, or that the payments are fair market value for services actually performed.

(2) Deferred income. Recent reductions in distributions of income, such as salary, bonuses, dividends, or management fees as a percentage of gross income of the business of the obligor. There shall be a presumption that past distributions of income will continue, which may be rebutted if the obligor demonstrates business conditions justify a reduction in distributions.

(3) Standard of living and assets. The standard of living and assets of the obligor both prior and subsequent to the establishment of a child support order, to establish the actual income if the amount claimed is inconsistent with his lifestyle.

B. When the income of an obligor cannot be sufficiently established, evidence of wage and earnings surveys distributed by government agencies for the purpose of attributing income to the obligor is admissible.

Acts 2009, No. 378, §1.

QUESTION: My ex-girlfriend had a baby. She told me I was the father. I believed her because we were living together and had a close relationship at the time. I signed the birth certificate and have been paying child support. We broke up a few months ago. I now think that I may not be the biological father. What are my rights?

ANSWER: Generally, a man who is not married to the mother at the time of delivery, becomes the “legal father” of the child upon signing an acknowledgment that he is the father (an acknowledgment is part of the process of singing a birth certificate, ). A person who signs an acknowledgment may unilaterally revoke his signature within 60 days of signing. After 60 days, a person who seeks to revoke his acknowledgment must show by clear and convincing evidence that he was induced into signing by fraud, mistake or duress or that he is not the biological parent of the child. If the court finds a likelihood of fraud mistake or duress or a likelihood that he is not the father, then the court shall order paternity testing. The mover has two years to bring such an action from the date of signing the acknowledgment. See LA Revised Statue 9: 406 for a full discussion.

QUESTION: How do I show someone that I own land that I am trying to sell?

ANSWER: The short answer and the best answer is an analysis of the public records by an experienced real estate attorney. This analysis is usually summed in a “title opinion.” By way of explanation, in the United State, there is no government agency (other than courts of law) that determines ownership land. For example, the Office of Motor Vehicles determines who owns an automobile. The state issues a “Title” to the automobile from the Louisiana Dept. of Public Safety Office Of Motor Vehicles. If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer, she will ask to see your “registration.” There is no similar animal when it comes to owning land. There is no Office of Land Ownership that issues “titles” or “registrations” for land ownership. The clerk of court conveyance records are the public records that pertain to land ownership. Private individuals, companies, and governmental entities constantly file documents in the conveyance records that pertain to ownership of land. Examples include deeds, partitions, exchanges, tax sales, donations, etc. It’s kind of like Wikipedia. All of the info is supplied by individuals, private businesses or government. The Clerk simply organizes, stores and indexes what is filed. The clerk does not have the authority to declare who owns land. It simply stores and manages that land records. So, an analysis of the land records by an experienced title attorney, usually in the form of a tile onion, is the best way show ownership. The Tax Assessor also maintains land records. Generally but not always, the owner of the land is the one who pays the taxes. So the tax assessor records are a good indication of land ownership, but they are not 100% dispositive.

Disclaimer: The information furnished in this answer is general and may not apply to some situations. All legal situations are unique. No one should rely to their detriment on these answers. Anyone with a potential legal problem should seek the advice of a licensed attorney before taking any action or inaction. The answers provided are not intended to be specific legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created between the SWLA Law Center and the viewers of KPLC-TV.

Copyright 2018 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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