Do I have to pay child support if I am not on the birth certificate?     Do I have any custody rights to a child that may not be mine?

children with no known father

Under section 2(1) of the Child Support Guidelines, the biological parent of a child always pays the full table amount of child support (unless the child is adopted or the parent passes the undue hardship test).  A biological parent, who is not living with the child, has the obligation to pay child support from the moment the child is born provided the biological parent knows that he or she is the biological parent.   If the mother does not place another person on the birth certificate as a parent, then that "other parent" may not know that he is the biological father unless the mother tells him. 

If the mother tells a man that he is the biological father of a child, but the man does not believe that, a DNA test will solve the issue. If the mother will not agree to the test, the man can get a court to order one pursuant to section 10 of the Children's Law Reform Act.  If the child is not the biological child of the man, and the man has not acted as a parent to the child, then no child support is payable.  If it turns out the child is the biological chid, then the Court may order the father to pay retroactive child support, with interest, back to the day that the father ought to have known he was the father.

John's podcast photo

The new partner may also have an obligation to pay child support if he separates from the mother.  That child support is in addition to, but does not replace, what the biological father is paying. For more on that, listen to this podcast or see this page.  For more on who has to pay child support, and how much, watch this video or listen to this podcast

On the custody issue, if you are not on the birth certificate, you do not "automatically" have custody rights and the mother does not have to give you anything.  You do not have to sign anything if you do not want to have a relationship with the child.  However, children generally benefit a lot from having a relationship with their biological parents.  If you want to know if you are the parent, so you can be involved in the child's life, then you can ask for the same DNA test referenced above.  

The courts usually want biological parents involved in their children's lives, so it is likely that the court would make an order to do that.  For more on how a court decides to make parenting orders, listen to this podcast or see this page.  

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law

Find out how the law applies to your specific situation, and what you should do next, it is best to have a consultation with a top family law lawyer.   You may also want to get a copy of this $20 easy-to-understand book on Ontario Family Law.  It explains all about child support, custody and access and how the court process, and the alternatives to court, all work. It also gives some tips on how to stay out of serious trouble.


To contact Certified Specialist in Family Law, John Schuman, about your child support or child custody or parenting matter, please call the number at the top of this page, or use the contact form below.  John represents clients as a family lawyer in the Greater Toronto Area and throughout Ontario.   He is also a skilled mediator, arbitrator and collaborative lawyer

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on Kindle

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© John P. Schuman 2014