Man pays 15 years of child support for daughter who isn`t his - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Marine says he paid $30K in child support for daughter who isn`t his

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Romel Smith (pictured with his new wife) Romel Smith (pictured with his new wife)
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Under the current law, a birth certificate is a binding legal document and signing it--even verbal acknowledgement--binds a parent to that child. One man says he learned that the hard way.

For more than a decade, former Marine Romel Smith says he's paid nearly $30,000 in child support for this little girl who's now 15 years old--but there's a catch.

"When the child was four and a half years old I decided to get a DNA test due to a little prompting from my mother. I got the DNA test and it proved that the little girl was not mine," said Romel Smith.

Fox 32 News is not revealing the teen's identity since she's underage.

Court documents show Smith fought his case all the way to the state Supreme Court which ruled that a man who signs a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity cannot later seek to undo the acknowledgment on the basis of DNA test results.

"My lawyers were going to court for me while I was overseas in the Iraqi war and I got told about it while I was over there and honestly I almost cried," said Smith.

"There would be less cases in the parentage court system and the child support court system if there were mandatory DNA testing. Whether or not the legislature will go that far, I don't know," said Attorney Masah SamForay.

SamForay focuses on family law cases.

A glimmer of hope lies ahead for Smith and others - SB 1867. The bill amends the Parentage Act of 1984 and passed the Senate Wednesday.

"What would happen then is the father would have the right to go to have the child support order thrown out. Under the current law, even if the two parents know the child is not the father's, the father still has to pay," said State Representative LaShawn Ford.

Despite a federal indictment, Ford says he's still working and is focused on getting this bill passed in the house next week.

"And it will come to the full body for passage and then on to the governor to sign," said Ford.

"I feel like every dime I've paid should be refunded to me, with interest and I hope it gets pushed through and I hope it prevents this situation from happening to someone else because like I said, no one deserves this," said Smith.

Fox 32's Tisha Lewis spoke with the teen's mother via phone. She declined an on camera interview but said, "He [Smith] hasn't been in her life since she was four. Why would he come back into her life if this is what he was going to do."

She disputes the authenticity of the DNA test results and maintains Smith is her daughter's father.

Smith is now married and expecting a child. The teen at the center of the controversy is from a previous relationship.

This is all the result of a default paternity order which happened when Smith missed the initial child support hearing. If the senate bill is passed, it would be effective immediately, however there would be a two year statute of limitations.

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