Man must pay child support, even though DNA shows he's not the father


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/07/29/man-must-pay-child-support-ev.html


#2

What?


#3

Jeez if this guy is sending support checks he should keep visitation rights as this looks like he truly cares for the kids welfare in place were most people would well you know what I am not the parent so that is my money now. Mom’s comment does not make her look like a winner here.


#4

I can understand the logic, in some cases, of people with sufficently strong de-facto parental relationships with a child paying for their support(though such cases are often messy, since the intersection of ‘divorced’ and ‘strong de-facto parental relationship with a biologically unrelated child’ tends to include a lot of ugly adultery stories); but I’m baffled on this one.

If the guy isn’t biologically responsible and isn’t being allowed to enjoy a de-facto parental relationship(over his objections, no less), on what basis is child support his problem? If he were being allowed to enjoy as much of a parental relationship as separation from the kid’s mother would allow, then part of ‘parental relationship’ would include child support; but he apparently doesn’t get that; and doesn’t have any genetic responsibility of the sort that you can’t just disclaim your way out of.

Either there is more to this story, or some family court functionary is doing their level best to reinforce the least flattering perceptions of that area of the justice system.


#5

That’s why they call it “Fox News Comedy Channel”, only the joke ain’t too funny.


#6

Support and Visitation/custody are two separate issues the courts deal with - because you could be a bad father or (whatever) and not have visitation and still be liable for support.

Interestingly many states have laws that set default support to whomever claims status as father on the birth certificate - the official one that is signed at the hospital. Once you say you are the dad at that point it’s hell to get it changed and DNA tests do not automatically change the status. You typically have 30 days or so from the date of birth to file a claim with the court that claims you dispute paternity.

Oddly this makes things flow smoothly for the most part - as it simplifies things such as adoptions and other cases where dna tests don’t really mean much. Unfortunately in this case as someone not related it really doesn’t matter what this guy wants - he has no legal right to see the kid (although until that is changed in court - he does - so go figure).


#7

When something seems too crazy to make sense, look for the key near the penultimate paragraphs.

After Atkins learned the truth, he tried to submit the DNA test to an Arapahoe County judge, but the family law judge refused to accept the evidence because Atkins, who represented himself at the time, didn’t know the legal rules for submitting evidence.

DNA results do matter, but so do courtroom procedures.


#8

This is the sort of Byzantine beuracracy and legal illogic that makes people scared to have any interaction with family courts or social services. It’s absolutely clear that the child’s interests are not central to these crazy decisions.


#9

I imagine that, as is often the case, this standard-of-proof has a great deal of inertia; and it certainly has the virtue of simplifying the accounting in a context where scientific methods for determining paternity were crude or nonexistent; but given the wide acceptance of DNA evidence in criminal proceedings, and its generally excellent reputation(yes, specific crime labs can and do have assorted scandals of incompetence and/or malice; but it’s alarmingly superior to a lot of the forensic ‘science’ that grew up specifically for the criminal justice system, rather than being adapted from the people doing actual biology) this seems like a standard whose days are numbered.

Doesn’t mean that you should automatically be off the hook just because you aren’t the father; adoptive parents, people who marry partners with children from prior relationships, etc. are all ‘parents’ for operational purposes; but the notion that you’d just ignore DNA evidence if mistaken paternity can persist for a whole 30 days just seems a bit nutty.


#10

The fact that he still refers to her as “my daughter” is enough to melt this cynic’s heart. Obviously I’m working off barely any information here but it sure looks like one of the girl’s parents is a lot more caring than the other.


#11

Me myself, I wish I had more likes to give.

But then on the other hand why inject rationality and good sense into a discussion that seems to be rolling along just fine in its absence?


#12

How the fuck do you get “rationality and good sense” out of “man not allowed to see his daughter because he didn’t fill out the right form?”


#13

From my experience the entire system is in place to ensure that two people are financially responsible for any child and thus reduces the amount of funding the state has to spend on the child. The court system for the most part could care less as long as someone is paying. The laws are setup to reflect that idea.


#14

I guess because I can read. But you’d rather write. And rage…

There is a niche for that in the practice of law, but it’s a narrow one.


#15

97% of what is spouted under the heading of “men’s rights” is nonsense.

-This- is why it’s not 100%.


#16

I’m not exactly sure how this works in Nevada (I mean Colorado), so there may be some slight differences but there’s nothing odd about this situation.

In many states and I think generally under common law there’s a presumption that a child born during a marriage is the product of the marriage. There are ways to disprove parentage, but like everything else in court there’s a procedure (a parentage action and a burden of proof,) so in general when one’s spouse or the state (collecting on behalf of itself to recoup entitlement payments most likely) goes in to start collecting support it gets it at least temporarily, and the amount it gets is determined with a dandy mathematical formula.

Custody is a separate issue, though frequently determined at the same time at least on a temporary basis. Custody of course isn’t a sure thing, the law wants visitation, but this can be impractical for a lot of reasons (location/travel time being the most common along with denying custody to those who may present a danger to the child).

In this specific case we don’t know when the custody and support orders were established. We know that there was visitation ordered and that the mother is engaging in gate-keeping behavior preventing visitation against court order. That’s generally frowned upon, but it’s hard to get a contempt order on visitation, or at least a meaningful one. Alternatively there may be reasons that the mother wants to keep the father from having custodial time - like real meaningful and important reasons related to child safety. In a perfect procedural world she’d likely file for an emergency order barring custody and then set a hearing on custody for a later date.

As for the biological father it sounds like he and the mother came to an agreement on visitation and there’s either something informal or a stipulation giving him visitation that was filed and signed by the court.

It’s a tangle, and one that the ‘father’ here could likely deal with, but from a legal standpoint it’s hardly unique, it’s just a bundle of common issues and the burden to fix them is on the ‘father’ who hasn’t yet done so.


#17

Sure it is much more important to follow courtroom procedures than to try and be fair and balanced to someone who maybe couldn’t afford legal representation.


#18

May I please call the mom in this case the b-word? Pretty please?


#19

Courtroom procedures matter, but a judge should be making allowances for a person who doesn’t understand them well. It’s family court, not criminal court. A judge should be interested in the truth, and shouldn’t be putting up a pay wall around it.

That said, even if he isn’t biologically the child’s parent that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to pay support. And if he is paying support that doesn’t mean he should get custody. Maybe the reason the judge didn’t help him with the evidence is because the judge didn’t think it mattered one way or another and figured the fastest thing was to move on.

The man comes across as sympathetic and reasonable in this story, but he could be a real abusive asshole who is good at talking to reporters. Any case where you are in family court is a bad situation to begin with.


#20

This seems manifestly unfair, though my very brief formal education on family law (which does not render me a lawyer) makes me think he’s running up against a statutory issue. Some states presume paternity if you’re married, etc.

But without regard to his particular case, visitation and child support aren’t linked so directly as people think. This is a bugaboo of mine. Visitation is taken into consideration and big changes in visitation can change things, but they’re not directly linked. An abusive parent might get no or only supervised visitation and still have to pay child support, for instance. The standard family courts go by when balancing these considerations is often “best interests of the child,” not “fairness to the parents.” Modern courts don’t split babies.