DAVENPORT, Ia. (AP) – A man is protesting a state law that requires him to pay child support for a child that isn’t his.

Forty-five-year-old Joe Vandusen received a letter from the Iowa Department of Human Services notifying him that he would have to pay child support for his estranged wife’s child, even though he is not the father.

Vandusen says he and his wife split up without filing an official divorce and have hardly talked in the last 15 years. The child Vandusen is expected to help support is about a year old.

Vandusen contacted the Department of Human Services’ Child Support Recovery Unit to say he’s not the biological father of his wife’s child and offered to take a paternity test to prove it. He said he was told it didn’t matter according to state law. “They said since I’m still legally married, I’m going to be responsible for the child support.”

An official from the Department of Human Service says in a case like Vandusen’s, the husband is considered the legal father of his wife’s child.

Other states have similar laws, which are aimed at making sure all children receive sufficient financial support.

Vandusen said he was recently laid off from his job and doesn’t have the money to pay child support. He said he also can’t afford to pay an attorney to file for divorce and fight in court against the child support requirement.

Vandusen already owes child support on his own child, who was born to another woman before his marriage. “In that case, I didn’t deny it.”

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