Who's Your Daddy? - How Paternity Effects Child Support and Child Custody in North Carolina

According to multiple sources, including Huffington Post and the New York Post, Charlotte resident and Bobcats Team Owner Michael Jordan is embroiled in a paternity and child support suit in Georgia regarding 16-year-old “Taj” Reynolds. The attorneys at Miller Bowles Law explore how this case may have played out had it taken place in Jordan’s home state of North Carolina.

According to multiple sources, including Huffington Post and the New York Post, Charlotte resident and Bobcats Team Owner Michael Jordan is embroiled in a paternity and child support suit regarding 16-year-old “Taj” Reynolds. The suit was filed in Fulton County, Georgia by Pamela Smith, who claims she had a tryst with Jordan in 1995. In the suit, Smith asks the Court to order Jordan to submit to DNA testing to prove paternity. Smith further asks the Court to order Jordan to pay child support and medical expenses for her son, but requests that she retain full custody. While no outcome has been reached in this case to date, the case has prompted the attorneys at Miller Bowles Law to explore how North Carolina law would apply had the suit against Jordan been filed in his home state.

In North Carolina, a man is presumed to be a child’s natural father if blood or genetic testing conducted pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 8-50.1(b1) indicates at least a 97 percent statistical probability of paternity. This presumption may be rebutted by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence that the man is not the child’s biological father. If a blood or genetic test indicates a probability of paternity below 85 percent, the man is presumed not to be the child’s natural father. Much like Georgia, establishing paternity in North Carolina is typically initiated by a civil suit.

After paternity of an illegitimate child has been legally established in a civil action in North Carolina, the child’s father and mother are liable for the child’s support to the same extent as the father and mother of a legitimate child. Therefore, the laws regarding child support apply to men whose paternity has been established by the Court just as they would to any other parent. Per North Carolina law, the amount and scope of the father’s obligation to support his minor child depends on the child’s reasonable needs and the relative ability of the father to provide such support. The duration of the child support obligation depends on many factors, but the obligation typically lasts until the child is emancipated, turns 18 years old, or graduates high school. If the father is a noncustodial parent, he still has a legal obligation to support his child. His obligation is not dependent on whether the custodial parent allows him to visit the child. However, a man whose paternity has been established may seek custody of the child if he wishes.

Therefore, if Pamela Smith had filed her paternity suit in North Carolina, Michael Jordan would have most likely been ordered to complete a blood or genetic test to determine paternity. If the blood or genetic test indicated at least a 97 percent probability of paternity, Jordan likely would have been ordered to pay child support, but he could have also attempted to seek custody of the child. While Jordan’s situation is newsworthy because of his high profile status, there are many parents in North Carolina dealing with the same concerns. Many of these parents use a family law attorney to help them navigate the sometimes complex issues of paternity, child support, and child custody. Speaking with a family law attorney on matters related to paternity, child support, and child custody can help ensure a favorable outcome for all parties involved.

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