‘Impossible father’ paying child support for son that can’t be his

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ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. -- What was news to a courtroom in Alamance County was well known to Randall Smith.

That he is in court over child support payments the county says he owes is not unusual. How he got here, certainly is.

In 1999, Smith got sick and had some work done in the hospital. Soon afterward, he met a woman and got married.

“She came up pregnant and told me about it,” he said. “I didn't speak to her and I set up an immediate appointment with my urologist.”

This makes sense when you look at the library of paperwork he keeps -- notated, highlighted -- on the treatment for his lymphoma back in 1999. It included a vasectomy that he had tested, soon after the procedure and twice more after his wife gave birth to her child -- five years later.

“That test showed that I had no sperm,” he said.

But Smith tried to make it work.

"Pretty much, we agreed -- I agreed -- to 'be there.' But we agreed from the start that, if we split, she wouldn't ask for child support," he said.

When she soon did.

"I thought, I said, ‘Uh-oh, now she's double-crossed me again.’"

An injury left him disabled and $7,000 in arrears with his child support.

This brought him back to court in Alamance County where he told a previous judge, "The child is not mine. He said, 'Well, y'all were married so, by law, the child is yours.'"

"Until they separated, there's a presumption that he's the father," said Carole Albright.

Albright is a family law attorney with Rossabi, Black, Slaughter in Greensboro.

"Just because you're acting as the father and supporting him financially, emotionally, does not then allow the court to then bind you to pay child support if you can show that you're not the actual father," Albright said.

Smith says he can. But it may all be too late.

"You have to do it within one year of finding out or reasonably having the opportunity to find out that you're not the father," Albright said.

Smith has asked for a DNA test, which the law says he is entitled to, if he can show reasonable evidence that he's not the father. The court has yet to grant that.