Non-fathers get child-support bills

As paternity testing has soared, more men have learned they’re not the fathers of the kids they’ve been raising. But non-dads may be stuck paying child support for other men’s children, reports the New York Times Magazine.

In most states, judges put the interest of the child above that of the genetic stranger who unwittingly became her father — and that means requiring him to pay child support. Some judges have even rebuked nonbiological fathers for trying to weasel out of their financial obligations. “The laws should discourage adults from treating children they have parented as expendable when their adult relationships fall apart,” Florida’s top court held in a 2007 paternity decision, quoting a law professor. “It is the adults who can and should absorb the pain of betrayal rather than inflict additional betrayal on the involved children.”

That seems unfair to me.

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  1. It’s worse than this. There are cases where men have been raped and been forced to pay child support.

  2. On top of that, many are, due to lazy courts and summary judgements, stuck paying child support of children they never fathered or even met. Often times, mothers simply put down some random name to fill the blank spot on the birth certificate. Even when it is proven that this person is not the father, the law makes it illegal for payments to be adjusted or removed.

    Stuck paying for a kid that’s not yours? Lose your job and can’t make payments? Go to jail. Why nobody has taken this to the Supreme Court as a clear violation of due process is beyond me. The whole idea of summary judgement is morally indefensible for a free society.

  3. Charles R. Williams says:

    It seems to me that a father by marriage who is not the biological father should have parental rights, if he chooses to exercise them, with parental financial obligations secondary to the biological father. In other words he would be financially responsible for the child only if the biological father cannot be made to pay.

  4. I personally think that is wrong no one should have to pay child support if the child is not thiers.

  5. The laws that establish that a child born within a marriage is the presumptive heir and responsibility of the husband not only pre-date DNA testing, but were put in place as much to protect men from the shame of having a loose wife (or being infertile) as they were to ensure that children have adults who are legally responsible for their welfare. I really have very mixed feelings about the trend towards paternity testing. Not only does it leave some children (those intentionally sired by donor sperm) vulnerable in the case of parental split, but there is something very ugly about all those baby-daddy shows on daytime TV. I cringe everytime (fortunately I don’t get to see a lot of daytime TV) I see some young man leap out of the chair to cheer that his erstwhile girlfriend is, in fact, a “ho” and the baby is not his. Every time I hear one of them swear that the baby could not be his because she was messing around, I want to assign him to mandatory sex ed to explain that if he did the deed, it doesn’t matter how many others did, too–he could have made a baby.

    Personally I have a friend who has taken on the father role to a kid who “might” be his. He has never gone for DNA testing because he didn’t want to find out that he was not the dad. He is the kind of guy that I honor.

    I say, either test ’em all at birth as a matter of routine, or not at all. To demand to know if you sired the children you have been raising on your way out the door is just too damaging to kids. They are not a part of the property settlement. They are your family–biological or not.

  6. To demand to know if you sired the children you have been raising on your way out the door is just too damaging to kids.

    So..protecting a man’s rights is not worth the damage it would cause to a child, but killing a baby is just fine to protect a woman’s rights?

  7. DNA does not make a father. A father means a lot more than that. If a man was duped for years, raised and loved a child… he is the father, dna or not.

    I think he should be granted the legal right to walk away, but if he does, that makes him a cad and not a man. REAL Fathers do not walk away from kids they’ve raised and loved for years just for lack of DNA. It is a pathetic man to punish a child he has loved for years just because the mother was a liar.

  8. Women who do this to their spouse/boyfriend and child should be held accountable for their actions. There is simply no excuse for perpetrating such fraud. At the very least, they should be required to pay for a guardian who oversees the spending of child support collected to support the child and cover any legal expenses incurred trying to straighten out the mess she has created. I think a lot of men who have already established bonds with their kids would be willing to support them financially, but not by handing lump sums to the woman who trapped him this way to do with as she sees fit.

  9. In about 100% of these cases, it’s the woman who did something wrong (lying being the most obvious). Yes, adults and not the children should bear the cross, but not some random adult.

    Our entire system of family law needs to be rewritten from the ground up. If we can do that and get *that* right, maybe I’ll reconsider my opposition to rewriting California’s constitution from the ground up.

  10. “So..protecting a man’s rights is not worth the damage it would cause to a child, but killing a baby is just fine to protect a woman’s rights?”

    I’ll ignore the abortion non-sequitor. Like, I said, either test them all at birth, or commit to being the parent. I have raised two kids to whom I have absolutely no biological relationship. Yep–that means that I missed out on some of the good parts before I got there. Not their fault, or mine–and in the end, that’s not what makes us a family.

  11. “I’ll ignore the abortion non-sequitor.”

    Of course, you will. It’s easy to ignore, is it not? You may choose to ignore it, but gahrie IS on target.