Judge Finds Hunter Biden Did Have a Secret Baby in 2018: Why His Child Support Case Won't Go Away
A DNA test proved he was the father even as the baby's mother said in court filings that he was a "stranger" to their child
Nearly eight months after Vice President Joe Biden‘s son Hunter Biden was first sued in Arkansas, a judge there has found that he fathered a child with a local woman who said he was not recognizing or financially supporting their baby.
In the fall, after the suit was first filed by Roberts in Arkansas, Hunter submitted to a DNA test which showed he was the father, according to court documents reviewed by PEOPLE.
On Tuesday, the judge also granted Roberts primary custody of their child, who is now a toddler, with visitation for Hunter to be agreed upon by both parties at a later date.
Still the case drags on: Both sides are set to return to court on Jan. 29 “for the purpose of addressing temporary child support for the minor child and other matters,” the presiding judge wrote recently. Permanent child support will be determined in May.
“That’s not common for a child support case to become this complex,” Roberts’ attorney Clint Lancaster tells PEOPLE. “It’s usually: Are you the child’s parent? Okay — how much are you going to pay for your kid? That’s not where we’re at. I can only speculate as to the reason why.”
An attorney for Hunter declined to comment beyond what was available in the court record. A spokesman for Hunter did not return a call.
The court documents outline ongoing disputes between Hunter, 49, and Roberts, including Hunter’s concern that his personal and financial information could become public as part of the suit.
The two sides sharply disagree on whether Hunter’s intransigence is a stalling tactic — verging on contempt — or a reflection of his caution after being the target of all manner of speculation, innuendo and insult.
(Vice President Biden is a front-runner to challenge President Donald Trump in this year’s election. Hunter’s past business dealings in Ukraine and China have been heavily scrutinized by conservatives as a result, though no evidence of wrongdoing has emerged. What Trump did with these same theories is also at the heart of his historic impeachment.)
In December, the court ordered both Roberts and Hunter to provide five years of tax returns and five years’ worth of financial documentation for any money they’d received. Hunter had said in a November filing that he was unemployed since May.
Roberts pressed Hunter for more extensive financial records, including about businesses he had owned. She also scheduled a deposition of Hunter on Dec. 23.
But Hunter resisted, arguing that some of her requested financial and personal information was beyond the scope of what was necessary to resolve the single issue remaining in the case: how much he should pay to support the baby. He also asked for an order limiting the scheduled deposition and who would be in the room during it. (The judge is expected to rule on that in January.)
A judge in the case previously ordered all financial information as well as the baby’s identity be kept secret.
“Public disclosure of the deposition can only be for the purpose of continued annoyance or attempts to embarrass the Defendant,” Hunter’s attorney, Brent Langdon, wrote in December.
Hunter had some reason to be guarded: In recent months, two unrelated parties have sought to legally “intervene” in the suit, making explosive and unproven allegations about Hunter in filings with the court, all of which have since been stricken.
In December, Roberts asked the judge to compel Hunter to provide the financial information she sought.
“The court should not let the defendant continue to avoid his natural and legal duty to support his child by failing to provide basic information about his income, finances, and lifestyle,” her attorneys wrote.
The following week, she asked the judge to find him in contempt. “[I]t is clear that the defendant does not believe this Court’s orders apply to him and that he can do as he pleases,” her attorneys wrote.
Hunter strongly denied Roberts’ contempt motion in a filing last Wednesday, labeling her argument “histrionics” and contending, in turn, that she had strategically included an exhibit in order to leak Hunter’s address to the media by putting it into the official record.
In response to this, Roberts’ attorneys said in a motion on Friday that “the defendant should not make speculative, disreputable, and offensive allegations about the motives of the plaintiff.”
“There’s a lot of different ways that a person could have approached the situation,” Lancaster, Roberts’ lawyer, tells PEOPLE now. “Hunter Biden’s approach is not one of a great willingness to resolve these issues.”
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Lancaster says there have been no meaningful settlement discussions.
“I think he has money, regardless of whether he says he doesn’t have a job, I think he’s got money and I think he could pay something that could settle this case,” Lancaster says of Hunter.
Roberts’ suit was first filed on May 28 but did not become public for weeks, when it was covered by a local Arkansas paper. International attention has since followed the case, with both Hunter and Roberts being dogged by the tabloids in different ways.
Last year multiple outlets published articles about Roberts’ alleged professional background and how she met Hunter, which PEOPLE has not been able to confirm.
Her attorney declined to comment on those reports, telling PEOPLE, “We don’t engage in gossip” and that saying anything more on the matter would not further Roberts’ one goal of securing child support.
Lancaster has said previously that Roberts, who is in her twenties, met Hunter in the Washington, D.C., area. Her attorneys said in court filings that she worked for Hunter and received money from him between May and November 2018. Lancaster says Hunter has not given her any money since that November.
Roberts’ suit stated that she and Hunter “were in a relationship” and had a child born in August 2018. Lancaster maintains that she is a “very, very private person.”
“This is a parenting and child support issue between her and Mr. Biden,” he said last year.
That hasn’t changed, he says this week, telling PEOPLE, “My client wants this thing resolved, she doesn’t want to be in the media, she doesn’t want paparazzi hanging out at her dad’s place of business hoping to get a shot of her.”
According to one of the motions filed on Roberts’ behalf in November, Hunter “refus[ed] to continue to support his child.” In an earlier motion in the case, Roberts’ attorneys said Hunter had admitted he was the father of her child — suggesting Roberts appealed to the court only when Hunter’s support ran dry.
Roberts’ attorneys have further said that Hunter is a “stranger” to his baby and that, as of December, he had “provided no support for this child for over a year.”
He denied this.
Hunter’s tumultuous personal life, including a surprise marriage, returned him to the headlines in 2019 at the same time as his dad launched a presidential bid — immediately becoming the leading contender to face President Trump.
Hunter’s name also repeatedly came up in the impeachment investigation of Trump over the president’s dealings with Ukraine. It was Hunter’s lucrative position with a Ukrainian energy company and Trump’s push to have Hunter and his father investigated by Ukraine that led to Trump’s impeachment on abuse of power and obstruction.
Democratic lawmakers have said an investigation shows the Trump administration withheld support from Ukraine, including aid to fight Russia, until Ukraine agreed to the investigations. (The president adamantly denies wrongdoing.)
In June, Vice President Biden confirmed Hunter had secretly married South African filmmaker Melissa Cohen after he earlier dated older brother Beau Biden’s widow, Hallie Biden, following Beau’s death from cancer in 2015.
The Daily Mail, a British tabloid, reported in December that Cohen was pregnant. Paparazzi photographed the couple — Cohen with a noticeable bump — while at lunch in Los Angeles last week.
In a candid profile published by The New Yorker in July, Hunter addressed his relationship with Hallie, his nearly overnight marriage to Cohen, his sometimes controversial business dealings and his years grappling with substance abuse issues.
According to The New Yorker, he claimed he never had sex with Roberts.
Speaking with PEOPLE in November, Lancaster said his client wanted to move forward:
“Ms. Roberts is committed to Hunter Biden and his family having the best relationship with the child, whatever that may be, whenever they’re ready.”