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Tennessee child support reimbursement decision reversed on appeal

It's become a classic tale: A man is told he's the father of a child he didn't know existed, and that he owes the mother untold amounts of child support. We've seen this scenario played out very publicly recently, with such accusations lodged against pop star Justin Bieber. A young woman claimed that a backstage tryst between her and Bieber resulted in the birth of their child, for which she demanded a large settlement. Although she eventually dropped the paternity suit, she's apparently seeking a new settlement out of court.

A case in Tennessee also continues to unfold, but with very different complications. A member of the military was told he had fathered a child. While he was serving in the war in Iraq, he was ordered to pay child support. Because he was serving overseas, he didn't make any court appearances but the payments were garnished from his military wages.

The man filed a motion for a paternity test, after which it was discovered that he was not, in fact, the father of the child. By this time the monthly paycheck withdrawals had totaled more than $2,700. The Juvenile Court ordered that the state reimburse the man, with the allowance that it could seek reimbursement of its own from the mother of the child. But the Tennessee Court of Appeals later ruled that the Juvenile Court judge didn't have the jurisdictional authority to require the state's reimbursement.

This latest ruling was essentially a legal technicality over which the man has no control, even though he made payments for a child that isn't his. It's not clear how or when the man will see that money again, but this case is a clear example of what happens when courts overstep their authority.

Source: The Chattanoogan, "Appeals Court Reverses Juvenile Court Child Support Reimbursement Decision," Jan. 5, 2012

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