Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Dec 18, 2020

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If a pregnant woman decides to have the baby, even if the father did not want the child, the father is not exempt from providing child support for the child. The mere argument of not wanting a child or not expecting its birth is not an argument against having to support it, and there is no obligation on the part of the mother to have an abortion or support a child on her own whether the father wanted the child or not. In fact, the court looks at what is best for the child, and considers a child’s best interest to be served when both parents provide financial support. This is true regardless of who did or did not want the baby, or who is at fault for an unwanted pregnancy.

Child Support Rules for Children Born Out of Wedlock

Although it might seem fair that a father who didn’t choose to have the child should be required to pay support, the matter is one of public policy. Essentially, the courts primary concern is that children receive the care and support they need. Child support cases are, therefore, not concerned with fairness to the parents, but only consider what would be in the best interests of the child. Children are better off when they receive support from both parents, therefore, where there are two parents the court will require both to support the child regardless of circumstances. There has even been a case where a father was ordered to pay child support for a child born when the mother used semen obtained from oral sex to inseminate herself. Despite the fact that the father had no realistic expectation of fatherhood, because it was in the best interests of the child he was ordered to pay child support.

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Cases Where the Woman Promised to Have an Abortion

There is no legal statute in any state that says a woman is required to go ahead with an abortion under any circumstances, including those where the father of the child either expects or wants her to do so. Interpreting the privacy rights in the Constitution, the Supreme Court determined in Roe v. Wade that the mother has the ultimate right to make this decision up until the last minute, and cannot be penalized for it. Not requiring the father to pay support because she said she would not have the child would likely be considered penalization.

An abortion is, by law, the choice of the woman carrying the baby, and regardless of what she says to the father or what he expects her to do, the fact that the baby is born means that he is responsible for paying child support, provided that he is legally the biological father of the child and has not otherwise terminated his parental rights. The only way to avoid paying child support is to terminate any and all parental rights to the child, something you may not do unless both the child’s mother and the court agree to it.

Getting Help

To get help understanding what options – if any – you may have for dealing with child support for an unwanted child, you should consider speaking with a lawyer.