For months in 2018, a very pregnant Lunden Alexis Roberts was unable to reach Hunter Biden, the father of her soon-to-be-born daughter. He screened her calls. He ignored her messages. Six weeks after their daughter’s birth, she tried one more time.
"In hopes that you even read this- Baby was born Aug 28. Beautiful & Healthy," she wrote in a text on Oct. 16, 2018. "If you ever become curious and want to know more I can send pictures, details, or whatever you may request."
"I know that’s a long shot and you’d much rather avoid the whole situation," she added, "but just wanted you to know the door is always open for you in the baby’s life."
Biden never responded. But years later, Roberts and their four-year-old daughter—whom President Joe Biden has refused to publicly acknowledge as his grandchild—have become an issue the Biden family can no longer ignore.
The ongoing child support case in Arkansas, which has drawn Hunter Biden into the courtroom and made national headlines, could force the younger Biden to release sensitive financial information. At the same time, several federal investigations, including a congressional probe into the Biden family’s foreign business dealings, are likely to keep eyes peeled on financial disclosures that come out of the Arkansas trial.
While Roberts has declined public interviews, court filings and text messages shed light on her battle to extract child support from a member of one of the world’s most powerful families, as well as her unsuccessful efforts to make Hunter Biden a part of their daughter’s life.
The text messages show Hunter Biden dropped out of contact a few months into her pregnancy, cut off her salary and health insurance shortly after she gave birth, and declined to even see a photograph of his newborn daughter. He had initially put her on his company’s payroll, likely to provide her with health care during the pregnancy. The messages show she did not go to court to seek child support until several months after Biden cut her off from his company's health insurance.
Hunter Biden reopened the paternity case last September, saying he could no longer afford to pay Roberts the $20,000-per-month in child support he had agreed to during his father’s presidential campaign in 2020. He is also asking the court to block the child from taking the "Biden" last name.
Hunter Biden, who initially denied he was the girl’s father until a court-ordered DNA test proved him wrong, said he has "no recollection" of sleeping with Roberts after they met in 2017, noting that he was a drug addict and had many casual sex partners at the time.
But according to text messages, Roberts and Hunter Biden were in frequent contact and discussed her pregnancy for the first few months. He added her to the payroll at his company, Owasco P.C., a perk that came with health insurance. But the text messages indicate that Biden was unhappy about Roberts’s pregnancy, and he dropped out of contact when she was about three months along.
"Last we spoke you were upset because I hadn’t kept you ‘updated.’ That was in February," Roberts wrote to Biden in October 2018, shortly after their daughter’s birth. "I’ve called numerous times and sent a few messages as well."
"I understand you despise me and want nothing to do with the decision I’ve made," she added. "However, I still felt you deserved to hear about it from me … Baby was born Aug 28."
Biden had also ignored Roberts’s attempts to reach him in the summer of 2018, as her September due date approached. "Just called to check in on you.." she wrote the evening before Independence Day. Later that month, she sent him an update from the doctor.
On Aug. 8, she wrote: "Reached out a few times, it’s clear you don’t want to be reached. Need to talk to you. If you feel the need to reach out, my line is always open. Hope you are well."
Roberts gave birth to their daughter on Aug. 28, 2018. A month and a half later, she wrote Biden to tell him that he was welcome to be a part of their child’s life. "I have left my ‘DC lifestyle’ in the past as I decided to come home [to Arkansas] and jump back into who I was before DC, bettering myself for a child," she told him.
Hunter Biden didn’t respond. But a few weeks later—after depleting his company’s bank accounts and facing financial difficulties—he told his personal assistant to remove Roberts from the Owasco P.C.’s payroll to cover his other expenses. "Take Lunden off payroll," he wrote, referring, at one point, to Roberts as "what’s her name."
Hunter Biden’s personal assistant, Katie Dodge, noted that this would also cut Roberts off from the company’s health insurance. Biden told her to go ahead. "I thought you said [Roberts] decidedly dint [sic] want to work and didn’t need health insurance anyway. Remember that conversation?" wrote Biden.
"No. I do not remember that conversation," responded Dodge. "Maybe she told you that but I wasn’t involved."
Biden shot back that he hadn’t "talked to Lunden in 7 months" and told Dodge to "take whatever I pay Lunden and get my shit straightened out." In a follow-up in December, Biden asked Dodge to confirm she "took what’s her name off" of the company payroll. Dodge confirmed that Roberts had been removed.
Five months later, Roberts filed a petition for child support against Biden in Arkansas. She was living back in her hometown of Batesville and working at her family’s local business, earning what the court judge estimated was "less than minimum wage." She said her parents helped her out with "petty cash," but Biden had "provided no support for this child" since the baby was born.
Hunter Biden "has had no involvement in the child’s life since the child’s birth" and "could not identify the child out of a photo lineup," Roberts’s attorneys said in a filing.
Hunter Biden, who told the court he was unemployed, eventually agreed in March of 2020—a few weeks before his father Joe Biden became the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee—to pay Roberts $20,000-per-month in child support.
Now Hunter Biden is taking a more aggressive approach. In September, he asked the court to reduce his monthly payments, saying there had been "a substantial material change in [his] financial circumstances, including but not limited to his income." He also ramped up his legal team, hiring D.C. power-lawyer Abbe Lowell, who attended the most recent hearing in Arkansas last month.
But he is also facing orders from the court to turn over financial records—including information on his businesses, investments, and financial gifts that could be relevant to an ongoing Department of Justice investigation into his taxes and a congressional probe into potential influence-peddling by the Biden family.
Hunter Biden’s move to reopen the case has surprised some legal experts.
"I'm really astonished that Hunter Biden, given that he has a pending criminal investigation, and given that there are pending congressional investigations, would go back into this court and try to reopen this Pandora's Box," former federal prosecutor Elie Honig told CNN in March.
That risk seemed to grow this week, after Arkansas Circuit Court judge Holly Meyer ordered Biden to appear on July 10 to defend himself against potential contempt charges. Roberts’s lawyers have asked the court to hold Biden in contempt for allegedly failing to turn over complete financial records.
Judge Meyer said Biden’s "ability to pay" child support "is or may become a critical issue in the contempt proceeding," opening him up to questions about his financial condition in court.
Hunter Biden "will have an opportunity at the hearing to respond to statements and questions about his financial status" and "is subject to an express finding by the court that he has the ability to pay," the judge said.