When most people hear the phrase “teen pregnancy,” they think only of the teenage mothers. But, there are also teenage fathers. Under the law in Virginia, a teenage boy can be determined by the court to be the father of a child, and can be ordered to pay child support for that baby. In proceedings to establish paternity, establish a child support obligation or enforce a child support obligation, teenage boys cannot escape the court’s ruling because of their age.
Pursuant to Virginia Code Section 20-49.6, a teenage boy between 14 and 18 years of age can be determined by the court to be the father of a child and ordered by the court to pay child support for that child as if he were an adult, if (1) the teenage boy is represented by a guardian ad litem, and (2) the teenage boy has not otherwise been emancipated.
A guardian ad litem is an attorney appointed by the court to represent a minor, in this case the teenage boy, and to protect the minor’s best interest and welfare before the court.
Now, the phrase “has not otherwise been emancipated” refers to a legal process by which a teenager, 16 years of age or older, can be free of parental control and have the same rights and responsibilities as someone who has reached 18 years of age. A 16-year-old teenager can be emancipated by court order if, after a hearing, the court finds that the child: (a) has entered into a valid marriage; (b) is on active military duty; (c) willingly lives separate and apart from the child’s parents or guardian, with their consent or acquiescence and the child is or is capable of supporting himself and competently managing his own financial affairs; or (d) the minor desires to enter into a valid marriage. The court is not required to appoint a guardian ad litem for an emancipated teenager, and can proceed with the establishment of paternity and child support without one.
If the two requirements of Code Section 20-49.6 are met, the court may enter an order establishing the teenage boy as the father of a child upon his acknowledgement of paternity under oath before the court or upon any other evidence legally sufficient for a finding of paternity. The court may also order the teenage father to pay child support.
It is best to consult with a family law attorney in a situation where a teenager may have fathered a child. The experienced family lawyers at Livesay & Myers, P.C. can help you understand your options. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.