The Moneyist: I discovered through 23andMe that my daughter is not mine — can I claim back child support from the biological father?

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Dear Moneyist,

I recently found out through a DNA test through 23andMe that my “daughter” isn’t mine. I was forced to marry, thinking the baby was mine. My wife passed away in 1990. Can I claim back child support from the biological farther? I reside in Pennsylvania. Thank you.

Al K.

Also see: Can I leave my stepchildren nothing if my husband dies?

Dear Al,

There’s a phrase in Ireland that resulted from a political scandal in the 1980s involving the then Attorney General, a debonair party boy and murderer named Malcolm Daniel Edward McArthur and a nurse named Bridie McGargan who was bludgeoned to death while sunning herself in the Phoenix Park on the outskirts of Dublin City. McArthur was arrested while staying at the home of the Attorney General, who was on vacation. The then Prime Minister declared the case: “Grotesque, Unbelievable, Bizarre and Unprecedented.” It led to the slightly absurd acronym GUBU, which found its way into the Irish vernacular and, for a brief period, a pub also called GUBU.

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Why am I telling you this sordid tale? Because I never fail to find some letters grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented. There are no winners here: Your wife did not behave in an honorable manner, and your “daughter” (your quotation marks) was not brought up knowing who her father really was. Were you in her life when she was growing up? Did you try to be involved with the girl you believed to be your flesh and blood? Do you have any love or affection for her? If the answer to those questions is no, I feel for her and the absence of a loving father in her life.

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I feel less concerned about the payments you made towards the young girl you believed was your daughter. You could ask a lawyer for his/her advice, but my suspicion is you will get the same response you will get here: This other man cannot be held responsible as a “dead beat dad” if he did not know he had a daughter and, as such, you can’t ask him or your “daughter” (your quotation marks) for this money back. Take pride and heart in the fact that you helped this young woman on her way in life. Think what it would do to her if she knew you wanted such cruel reparations.

For that reason alone, I find this situation GUBU. Sometimes, unexpected and challenging situations can reveal who we are. Choose to be the best man you can be. Move on.

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Hello there, MarketWatchers. Check out the Moneyist private Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas: inheritance, wills, divorce, tipping, gifting. I often talk to lawyers, accountants, financial advisers and other experts, in addition to offering my own thoughts. I receive more letters than I could ever answer, so I’ll be bringing all of that guidance — including some you might not see in these columns — to this group. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

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