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In the UK and/or Ireland, is child support payable by someone who fathers a child with a paid escort?

Assume the scenario where the condom broke, and the escort assured the "customer" that she was on birth control but she became pregnant anyway and a subsequent paternity test shows the resultant baby is the "customer's".

I was under the impression that child support could only be sought in normal relationships and not from escort relationships.

What does the law say on this matter?

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    If a DNA test shows that the child is yours, then you are liable for the usual contribution to care at CSA rate of 15% of take home pay. Whether you paid for the sex or it was a freebie. When the baby is born the mother can apply to the CSA for maintenance naming you as the father. You will have a limited time within which to ask for (and pay for) a DNA test if you wish to challenge the issue. The cost is repaid if the child is not yours. Mar 15 at 18:55
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    @MichaelHarvey sounds like an answer worth posting.
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 15 at 19:57
  • This is a question about what the law is.. It is in no way a request for specific legal advice, and it should not be closed as such. Mar 15 at 22:52
  • If the rubber johnny breaks, you're still liable. Sex worker, girlfriend, one-night stand, wife. Mar 16 at 18:18

2 Answers 2

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In the UK, the law applicable to liability for child maintenance does not restrict it to children conceived in 'normal', conventional, or ongoing relationships. A biological parent has specific legal rights, AND a duty of ‘parental responsibility’ to look after the child.

  • Mothers automatically have parental responsibility.

  • A father has parental responsibility if he is married to the child’s mother, or is named on the birth certificate.

  • Unmarried fathers do not have automatic parental responsibility, and neither do step-parents or grandparents.

A proven biological father may not have parental responsibility, but will certainly have financial responsibility. In most cases fathers will have parental responsibility or can easily acquire it by way of an agreement or a court order. Unless there are compelling reasons, the courts are unlikely to refuse it.

If a DNA test shows that the child is yours, then you are liable for the usual contribution to care at CSA rate of 15% of take home pay. When the baby is born the mother can apply to the CSA for maintenance naming you as the father. You will have a limited time within which to ask for (and pay for) a DNA test if you wish to challenge the issue. The cost is repaid if the child is not yours.

Financial liability applies whether or not money has changed hands in return for the sex that led to the child's conception. The issue of casual sex leading to parenthood is a perennial one, and this page is as good as any:

Dating site babies (Leiper Gupta Family Lawyers)

Also in the UK, if you donate sperm through a Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) licensed clinic, you will not:

  • be the legal parent of any child born
  • have any legal obligation to any child born
  • have any rights over how the child will be brought up
  • be asked to support the child financially
  • be named on the birth certificate

If you use an unlicensed clinic to donate sperm, or an informal method, you will be the legal father of any child born from your donation under UK law.

Legal rights for egg and sperm donors (UK Government)

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  • In the US, about the only time a biological father can't be held liable for support is when the child was conceived via a sperm donation administered by a licensed doctor/facility. A personal agreement between parties that the male is just donating sperm and has no responsibilities usually won't hold up (these things vary by state), it has to be through a legally recognized facility/doctor. Does the UK have a similar exemption for sperm donors? Mar 16 at 15:35
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    @zibadawatimmy, yes, see amended answer, and also a woman giving birth is always considered the legal mother in UK law even when using a donated egg. Mar 16 at 16:44
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    It is worth noting in passing that this was not the historical rule at common law in England, which provided that there was no duty of a father to support a child born out of wedlock (codified in the New Poor Law of 1834). historytoday.com/archive/history-matters/whos-family Inheritance laws were reformed in 1969. legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1969/46/part/II/enacted?view=plain The final major reform was in 1987 and there may have been earlier ones. See also jstor.org/stable/25739255 SCOTUS abolished the illegitimacy distinction in the U.S. in the 1970s.
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 16 at 19:30
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Child maintenance is not meant for the mother, it is meant for the child. The fact that you are the father of the child implies that you are responsible for some of the cost of raising the child. It matters very little what your relationship with the mother was.

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    Child maintenance is paid to the person having custody of the child, and is a contribution towards the expenses that person has in relation to the child. Mar 16 at 10:35
  • This is not entirely true. If you are not being diplomatic in your answer you would be closer to the truth by stating... "The fact that you are the father means you are responsible for all the expenses of the child and the mother."
    – Neil Meyer
    Mar 18 at 11:37
  • Im also certain that when it comes to paternal rights your relationship with the mother matters a great deal. If you are married to the mother you have some rights. If you are not married you have none.
    – Neil Meyer
    Mar 18 at 11:44

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