Men are often distraught to learn that they can become financially responsible for a child even when that child is not biologically their own. In 2014, AJC shared the story of one man in Michigan who owed about $30,000 in back child support. Even though DNA tests proved the child was not his, the courts remained steadfast that he should pay up.

The mother of the child even stepped forward to admit that he was not the father and to petition the court to reconsider their decision. She said she put his name down while applying for assistance. The man whose name she wrote down was in prison at the time. He neither received nor knew of the summons for his appearance in court to challenge the claim. His failure to sign or challenge that document more than two decades ago put him on the hook for the money the mother received for the child.

He is not alone in this. Several men have become dads by default for similar reasons under different circumstances. NBC26 News told the story of one pastor who became a dad by default because he was married to the mother of the children and raised them for years. When he learned that he was not the biological father, he divorced the wife and sought to sever financial ties with the children he had not biologically fathered.

However, the pastor’s response to his wife’s infidelity after already becoming involved in the children’s life is exactly why the laws exist. They help to ensure children do not become punished for the indiscretions of their parents. Even so, it weighs emotionally on men to be forced to support the children of another man after learning of their spouse’s betrayal.

Several bills have since been written to combat this problem. It is not clear what provisions they made or how this may affect the children involved if they pass into law.