State Courts And Paternity Fraud

The stories below are reproduced under the Fair Use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.


| EJF Home | Find Help | Join the EJF | Comments? | Get EJF newsletter |


| Families And Marriage Book | Abstract | Family site map | Family index |


| Chapter 7 — Paternity Fraud Epidemic |

| Next — Injustice By Default by Matt Welch |

| Back — Who's Your Daddy? by Cecily Ruttenberg |



No time limit on proving paternity in Ohio

Where'd my daddy go? Justices sent him away

Teen sues mom in bid to ID dad in Mount Clemens Michigan

Dad wasn't dad after all, but Florida Supreme Court rules he still owes child support

Missouri man who isn't father must pay child support anyway

Ontario father forced to continue paying child support for twins that aren't his

Court knew Georgia man jailed for a year for non-support was not child's father

States should begin jailing mothers who wrongfully identify men in paternity actions

Family court injustices to men

Iowa Supreme Court allows paternity-fraud lawsuit


No time limit on proving paternity in Ohio by Donna J. Miller


© 2006 Cleveland Plain Dealer

February 2, 2006 — The Ohio Supreme Court upheld a state law Wednesday that gives men unlimited time to use DNA proof that they are not biological fathers, which means they could stop paying child support.

Previously, men had one year to challenge support orders with DNA. The law removing the time limit, enacted by the General Assembly in 2000, was challenged by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutors Office.

Thousands of the 685,000 child support orders in Ohio could be overturned, sending mothers and child support enforcement agencies searching for the real fathers.

An estimated one-fourth to one-third of DNA paternity tests nationwide result in men learning that they are not the fathers, according to the American Association of Blood Banks, which monitors the laboratories doing the tests.

In Cuyahoga County in the last five years, an average of 120 men a year sought DNA tests. About 40 a year had their child support orders dismissed. [one third]

"The cases were usually settled by forgiving the arrearage the man owed from failing to pay for months or years," Assistant County Prosecutor Laura Gallagher said. "Since the men weren't paying it as ordered in the first place, most mothers' budgets won't be devastated. It's the kids who feel it the most."

Former State Rep. Peter Lawson Jones, a Shaker Heights Democrat, sponsored the bill five years ago.

"I feel great," he said Wednesday, after learning of the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling. "No man should be forced to pay for children that are not his. It's just pure, unadulterated common sense."

It's not that simple, said Gallagher and her colleague Timothy Spackman.

The law doesn't allow judges to consider the overriding concern in Juvenile and Domestic Relations courts — the best interests of children, they said.

"I've been involved in a case where the boy was a Junior," Gallagher said. "It's heartbreaking. It's to hell with the kids." [EJF note: Isn't it the mother who is responsible? Why should an innocent man be condemned for a woman's adultery?]

Spackman added: "I've been involved in cases where teenage kids ended up in psychiatric hospitals" after they learned the man they called dad was not their biological father.

The clash between DNA science and years-old support orders began as a trickle in the 1980s. It swept through 43 states in the last decade and generated conflicting court rulings.


Where'd my daddy go? Justices sent him away by Brian Dickerson


© 2006 Detroit Free Press

July 28, 2006 — It hadn't occurred to me that the black robes of judicial office endow the mortals who wear them with supernatural powers. But I'm considering that possibility in light of a recent paternity case in which Michigan's highest court took the only father a 7-year-old Kalamazoo boy has ever known and made him disappear — poof! — just like that.

Nobody is denying that Michael J. Barnes Jr. exists or that he is the biological father of McClain Michael Barnes, the son his girlfriend Kim Jeudevine gave birth to in February 1999. The elder Barnes still has the home pregnancy test that announced McClain's imminent arrival, and the surgical gown he was wearing the day he witnessed his son's delivery.

Jeudevine acknowledged Barnes' paternity in an affidavit of parentage signed after her son's birth and obtained a birth certificate listing Barnes as the father. The couple never married, but they lived and raised McClain together until the summer of 2003, when they broke up.

Barnes' right to a continuing relationship with the son he sired and raised for nearly 4 1/2 years wouldn't be an issue except for the fact that the boy apparently was conceived while Jeudevine was still married to another man, James Charles.

Charles filed for divorce from Jeudevine in July 1998, about eight months before she gave birth to McClain. He says he didn't even know his wife was pregnant when their divorce became final that November, and he told the divorce judge (at a hearing Jeudevine declined to attend) he had no reason to believe she conceived a child during their two-year marriage.

Charles has never had anything to do with the son Jeudevine gave birth to in 1999, and no one, including Jeudevine herself, has ever argued that he should.

But in 2003, when Barnes sued Jeudevine for visitation rights after she told him he could no longer see McClain, Jeudevine's lawyers argued that only Charles, the ex-husband who'd taken no part in the boy's conception or upbringing, had standing to assert any paternal rights.

A Michigan Court of Appeals panel unanimously rejected that reasoning in 2005, ruling that although McClain was conceived while Charles and Jeudevine were still married, their divorce decree had specifically excluded him as the father of any children she bore. Since all the available evidence pointed to Barnes as the biological father, the panel concluded, he was clearly within his rights to seek parenting time with McClain.

Barnes, a 45-year-old telephone lineman who now lives with his new wife in rural Van Buren County, wept for joy when he got the news of his appellate court victory. But Jeudevine's attorneys appealed, and Wednesday, by the narrowest possible margin, the Michigan Supreme Court agreed that only Charles, the dad who never was, has standing to sue Jeudevine for visitation with McClain.

"The affidavit of parentage and the birth certificate do not rebut the presumption that the child was an issue of [Jeudevine's] marriage to Charles," Justice Elizabeth Weaver wrote for the court's 4-3 majority. "Charles is and remains the child's legal father."

Charles, needless to say, has no intention of suing for custody of a boy he has never had any reason to believe was his. Jeudevine, 49, could force the issue of paternity by suing Charles for child support. But she's unlikely to do so, since the likely consequence would be a court-ordered DNA test excluding Charles as the father. If Charles were thus excluded, the distraught Barnes would have a new legal opening to assert his own paternity claim, which is the last thing Jeudevine wants.

"What is clear is that, for a practical matter, the child can expect to have no father in [Jeudevine's] former husband," Justice Marilyn Kelly wrote in a bitter dissent.

Justice Stephen Markman went further, in a separate dissent joined by Justice Michael Cavanagh:

"The majority here rejects a father who welcomes the opportunity to take responsibility for his child, and who has acted as a father for more than four years, in favor of no father at all," Markman wrote.

Barnes' attorney says he'll petition state justices to reconsider the case. But barring an about-face by one of the four justices in the majority, his only recourse would be a long-shot appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

So for all practical purposes, the only thing Kim Jeudevine has to worry about is how to answer when her son asks why she and a bunch of state Supreme Court justices conspired to banish the only father he has ever known.

Boy, I'd hate to have to answer that one. But, hey, maybe Justice Weaver and her colleagues can make little McClain disappear, too.


Contact Brian Dickerson at 248-351-3697 or


Teen sues mom in bid to ID dad in Mount Clemens, Michigan by Steve Pardo and Christina Stolarz


© 2006 Detroit News

17-year-old finds man who raised him isn't biological dad; they unite to seek genetic history.

April 28, 2006 — A 17-year-old Mount Clemens boy is suing his mother in Macomb County Circuit Court to force her to reveal the identity of his biological father.

Two years ago, the teen — identified as "Minor J" in court filings — learned that the man who helped raise him wasn't his real father. Now, with help from that man, who is his legal father, he's involved in a lawsuit that could help determine what rights children have to know the identity of their parents.

The case centers on the teenager's desire to know his family genetic history for health purposes, said Henry Baskin, a prominent Birmingham attorney who represents Minor J.

The mother, who lives in Fraser and is identified as Diane J., "owes her son this information," said Baskin, who acknowledged that he could find no legal precedent that would compel her to provide the information. "I've checked all over the country and I can't find anything," he said.

The boy's mother could not be reached for comment and apparently is not yet represented by an attorney.

J. Michael Kelly, a prominent Santa Monica., California, family law attorney and a University of Southern California professional, said he believes the son has a right to sue to find out who his father is.

"It's an overriding right," Kelly said. "It would be extraordinarily selfish for the mother not to disclose. A human's desire to know who their parents are and where they came from is crucial. He can't say, 'this is my grandfather, this is my grandmother.' He has no history."

Baskin said the case is not going to be about child support.

"It's 'Who's my daddy?' It's unfair to everyone not to know genetically what's going on. It's either going to be a case that will set precedent or it will lead to some legislation if I can't sustain the case."

Diane J. and her former husband were divorced in 1995. The couple was married at the time Minor J. was conceived in 1988, Baskin said.

In 2004, the husband began to have doubts that the teen was his biological child, Baskin said. After the divorce, Minor J. split his time between his mother's home and her former husband's home in Oakland County. And he still does.

"The father, who loves this person by the way and is very much in his life, just for some reason thought, 'Geez, there's something genetically incorrect.'"

In April 2004, the family was tested. Two separate DNA tests dispelled any possibility that the man was his father, according to the lawsuit.

The teen asked his mother for the identity of his father. According to the lawsuit, his mother gave another name — referred to as "Mr. X" in the lawsuit.

Three months later, another DNA test revealed Mr. X wasn't the father, either.

It was then that the mother refused to reveal the identity of the biological father.

"It's unfair to everyone not to know genetically what's going on," Baskin said. "If you were in your teens and want to go to college, get married and have a baby, wouldn't you like to know your family medical history before you have a child?"

Baskin points out that even donor and adoption agencies require a medical history of both parents in an effort to ensure a healthy lifestyle for the child. "It is imperative to know his predisposition to disease," he said.

"How important the family history is depends on what's in the family history," said Dr. Alan Guttmacher, deputy director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. The institute is part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. "It's very useful for everyone to know their family history to the greatest degree possible. If you have good (information), it can alert you to specific disorders."

That medical background can help someone make better lifestyle choices, such as early medical screenings, diet and exercise, he said.

The worst-case scenario is for someone to unknowingly be at risk for a particular disease they wouldn't normally think about unless it's in the family medical history, he said.

In addition, the biological father could be compelled to pay support. But the clock is ticking. A child can sue for support from his biological parent when he's a minor up until a year after reaching adulthood. So the teenager has until January 25, 2008 — his 19 th birthday — to find his biological father. Baskin said he served the woman with the lawsuit on Wednesday and hopes to take her deposition within two weeks to find the father.

"I need to get that information and the information wasn't forthcoming," he said.


You can reach Steve Pardo at (586) 468-3614 or


Dad wasn't dad after all, but Florida Supreme Court rules he still owes child support by Warren Richey


© 2007 The Christian Science Monitor Online

Reproduced under the Fair Use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.

Florida Supreme Court case raises fundamental questions about the nature of fatherhood and legal responsibilities.

February 9, 2007 — Sixteen months after his divorce, Richard Parker made a devastating discovery in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A DNA test revealed that his 3-year-old son had been fathered by someone else.

Mr. Parker immediately filed a lawsuit claiming fraud by his apparently unfaithful ex-wife. He took his case all the way to the Florida Supreme Court.

Last week, the Florida justices ruled 7-0 against him. They said that Parker must continue to pay $1,200 a month in child support because he had missed the one-year post-divorce deadline for filing his lawsuit. His court-ordered payments would total more than $200,000 over 15 years to support another man's child.

"We find that the balance of policy considerations favors protecting the best interests of the child over protecting the interests of one parent defrauded by the other parent in the midst of a divorce proceeding," writes Justice Kenneth Bell for the court.

"We recognize that the former husband in this case may feel victimized," he writes. He then quotes a scholar to explain the ruling: "While some individuals are innocent victims of deceptive partners, adults are aware of the high incidence of infidelity and only they, not the children, are able to act to ensure that the biological ties they may deem essential are present."

In effect, the high court is saying it's partly Parker's fault for trusting his wife.

The Parker case illustrates an increasingly contentious debate over the rights and responsibilities of divorced fathers who have been duped and don't challenge paternity at or near the time of divorce. But it also raises fundamental questions about the nature of fatherhood and the legal responsibilities that can attach to a father-child relationship — even when that relationship is the result of fraud and deception by a wife and mother.

Most states have laws that permit courts to order men who have been deceived to continue to make child-support payments even when they have no biological connection to the child. The idea is to minimize any disruption in the life of the child. In recent years, some states have begun passing laws that give deceived dads some ways to fight back.

There are no reliable estimates of how often "paternity fraud" takes place. Some findings suggest 4 to 10 percent of fathers, but no definitive study has been completed.

Unlike most duped ex-husbands in the US, Parker may still prevail in court. Last summer the Florida legislature passed a law that allows men to use newly discovered paternity evidence (like Parker's DNA test results) to overturn a court order to pay child support for someone else's child.

The June 2006 law is aimed at preventing the kind of outcome ordered by the Florida Supreme Court. The policy approach taken by the Florida Legislature stands in sharp contrast to the "policy considerations" cited by the state supreme court justices.

Supporters of the Florida law see it as a major step toward justice for deceived ex-husbands. Critics see it as a potential danger to the well-being of mothers and their vulnerable children.

In addition to Florida, Ohio, Georgia, Maryland, Alabama, Indiana, Virginia, Arizona, and Wyoming have laws allowing ex-husbands to overturn a child-support order when deception or fraud by an ex-wife is discovered, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. By contrast, most other states set a one- to four-year deadline for fathers to file lawsuits challenging paternity determinations.

The idea behind the deadline is that any action taken in a marriage breakup should be completed while the child is as young as possible to avoid a major disruption during the most formative years.

"We don't want a system where a child is 10 years old and you have people who come in and undo what has been put in place many years before," says Susan Paikin of the Center for the Support of Families in Silver Spring, Md.

Ms. Paikin says that it is up to the adults in the relationship to thoroughly investigate any paternity issues at the time of the divorce.

But fathers' rights advocates say that few husbands are aware of a paternity deadline and its legal implications. And many have no idea that their wives have been unfaithful.

In generations past such infidelity might have gone undetected. But the advent of DNA testing is changing that. It is giving new momentum to a debate over how best to provide for broken families.

"There is no perfect answer," says Paikin.

"There are a lot of people who will argue that it is always in the child's best interest to have a relationship with the biological parent and that should override everything else. There are others who believe just as fervently that being a parent has more to do with being caring and nurturing, and that is what makes you a father."

Part of the difficulty in paternity disestablishment cases is that once the financial contribution of the nonbiological father is terminated, the courts do not recognize a legal right to continued contact between the child and the man.

"It is the ultimate Catch-22 for my client," says Parker's lawyer, Scott Lazar of Miami.

"On the one hand he has a relationship with this child and cares about this child and would probably be willing to provide money for this child, but he doesn't want to provide it to the mother to use as she wishes."

Family court judges aren't interested in fostering a continuing relationship between men and the children of their ex-wives, says Carnell Smith, who runs a DNA-testing company and is founder of Atlanta-based US Citizens Against Paternity Fraud. "The court is only concerned about financial payments."

Judges generally view the man in a divorce proceeding as nothing more than a "walking checkbook," he says.

Smith says that instead of targeting deceived ex-husbands, the legal system should investigate the conduct of the wife and hold the mother and biological father responsible for the child they produced.

"In no other area of the law do we punish the victim for the conduct of two other people," Smith says. "For me it is disingenuous for the Florida justices to turn around and say [to Parker] 'Well, it is your fault that you didn't find out sooner.'"

The Florida legislature tried to balance the law to avoid forcing children onto welfare rolls, says Tom Sasser, chairman of the family-law section of the Florida Bar. It rejected a proposal to allow ex-husbands to recover prior child-support payments. It also rejected a proposal to allow triple damages against deceptive mothers. Instead, the law allows ex-husbands to be released from future payments.

And that, advocates say, opens the door for some ex-husbands to attempt to build a trusting relationship with someone new and perhaps start a family without the burden of a court-imposed financial debt hanging over his new wife and children.


Missouri man who isn't father must pay child support anyway by Joe Lambe


© 2007 The Kansas City Star

February 13, 2007 — Once again, Missouri judges have ordered a man to pay thousands of dollars in child support for a child he didn't father. This time even the child's mother agrees the man is not the father.Yet a state agency says he is, because he was married to the woman when she gave birth. The state wants David Salazar thrown in jail, and an appeals court on Tuesday agreed. His lawyer, though, hopes that a higher court will rescue the Buchanan County man and others like him caught in a national issue that pits fairness for men against what is considered best for children.

Many men nationwide get trapped into paying child support because they do not contest paternity before state-set deadlines. Several states recently have changed laws or are considering changes that would allow men to introduce DNA evidence after the deadlines have passed. A bill pending in the Missouri Senate would allow that here. In the case decided Tuesday, David Salazar and his wife agreed that they separated 14 months before she had a baby girl by another man in November 2001. But the couple was too poor to pay for a divorce, his attorney said. A hospital clerk ordered the mother to list Salazar as father on the birth certificate. The Missouri Division of Child Support Enforcement named Salazar the father without DNA testing. Salazar did not attend a hearing to contest the paternity finding. A Buchanan County judge later found him guilty of not paying $278 a month in child support and sentenced him to 28 days in jail. Salazar appealed, but lost Tuesday in a 6-5 ruling by the appeals court in Kansas City. He could not be reached for comment.

In most states, a reputed father has a short time to contest findings that he is a parent. In Missouri and Kansas, that period is one year. Child support usually must be paid until children turn at least 18. Laura Donaldson, assistant Buchanan County prosecutor, said judges followed a clear legal process designed to financially provide for children. "When you fail to contest an issue," she said, "we assume you're not serious about contesting it." Even though the mother, Shannon McClure, told officials that Salazar was not the father, she could have been lying because he threatened her — there was no way of knowing, Donaldson said. [The "abuse excuse" is ever present.]

Assistant public defender Merle Turner said she would appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court. Her client never finished high school, could not afford a lawyer or a divorce and could not understand or deal with the administrators, she said.

Chief Judge Victor Howard, writing for the appeals court majority, noted that Salazar did not attend paternity hearings. At trial before a judge in 2004, Salazar admitted he had not paid child support. He was not allowed to give a DNA sample at that point, because by then he was considered the father by law. Judge Ronald Holliger wrote the dissent. "David Salazar is now held to be the father of A.S. (the child) for all purposes and all time," he wrote, "despite both mother and father's statements to the contrary and without any determination of that relationship by a court of law."

If convicted again for nonpayment, Holliger noted, Salazar could be guilty of a felony punishable by four years in prison. And by now Salazar owes more than $13,000 in child support. Yet only the child support division — never a judge or evidence — named him the father, Holliger noted. The administrative order should not settle the paternity issue, Holliger contended, and its finding that Salazar must pay child support should not be enough to send him to jail for nonsupport.

Many cases of non-fathers paying child support do not become public because the files are sealed. In 2005, The Kansas City Star reported on two other men who lost such court battles.


Ontario father forced to continue paying child support for twins that aren't his


by Jennifer Jordan, ParentDish

January 20, 2009 — When things don't work out between parents, it can be rough. The road to separation and divorce is rarely a pretty one. Normally, the kids get to stay with one parent the majority of the time, and the other ends up supporting them financially. So it was with Pasqualino Cornelio who paid a good amount of child support for his twins with ex-wife. In fact, Cornelio paid support for the kids up until they were sixteen. At one point the ex allegedly demanded more money and restricted his visits with the children, at which point a DNA test was submitted. The result was sad on a number of different levels -- the kids weren't his, at least not biologically.

Well, at some point Cornelio decided he should no longer have to pay support for the children. He also hired a lawyer to help him get back all the money he'd paid in child support. A judge thought otherwise and ordered the Cornelio to continue paying. Justice Katherine van Rensburg of the Ontario Superior Court felt Cornelio was the only father the twins had ever known, and that DNA means little with regard to the bonds between parents and children. I couldn't agree more. Some in the province, however, including Brian Jenkins of the Fathers Are Capable Too group, say that the ex-wife committed fraud (by having an affair and then claiming the kids were Cornelio's) and should be held accountable.


Court knew Georgia man jailed for a year for non-support was not child's father


© 2009 by Bill Rankin, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

July 14, 2009 — Frank Hatley has languished in a South Georgia jail for more than a year.

The reason? He failed to reimburse the state for all the public assistance his "son" received over the past two decades.

The problem? Hatley is not the biological father — and a special assistant state attorney general and a judge knew it but jailed Hatley anyway.

"I feel bad for the man," Cook County Sheriff Johnny Daughtrey said Tuesday. "Put yourself in that man's shoes: If it wasn't your child, would you want to be paying child support for him?"

Daughtrey said he hopes a hearing Wednesday will resolve the matter. Hatley has been held at the county jail in Adel since June 25, 2008, costing the county an estimated $35 to $40 a day.

Even after learning he was not the father, Hatley paid thousands of dollars the state said he owed for support. After losing his job and becoming homeless, he still made payments out of his unemployment benefits.

Hatley's lawyer, Sarah Geraghty of the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, said two independent DNA tests — one nine years ago and one just a few days ago — prove he is not the biological father.

"This is a case of excessive zeal to recover money trumping common sense," she said. "What possible legitimate reason can the state have to pursue Mr. Hatley for child support when he does not have any children?"

It may be difficult for Hatley to get out from under the court order, said Atlanta family lawyer Randall Kessler, who is not associated with the case. "It's definitely unfair," Kessler said. "But at the same time, he's dealing with a valid court order."

Russ Willard, a spokesman for the state attorney general, said if Hatley can show at the hearing that he is indigent, the state will not oppose his release.

Willard said Hatley could have applied to the state Office of Child Support Services to request that he be relieved of his obligations. He said Hatley has not made such a request.

According to court filings, Hatley was never told that he could have a court-appointed lawyer if he could not afford one. Geraghty said she only recently took on Hatley as a client after the sheriff asked her to talk to Hatley about his predicament.

Geraghty said Hatley had paid a total of $9,524.05 in support since April 1995, but records of payments before that time are not available.

In the 1980s, Hatley had a relationship with Essie Lee Morrison, who became pregnant, had a baby boy and told Hatley the child was his, according to court records. The couple never married and split up shortly after Travon was born in 1987. [So the "child" is now 22-years old.]

In 1989, Morrison applied for public assistance through the state Department of Human Resources. The state then moved to get Hatley to reimburse the cost of Travon's support, and Hatley agreed because he believed Travon was his son.

But in 2000, DNA samples from Hatley and Travon showed the two were not related, according to a court records.

With the help of a Georgia Legal Services lawyer, Hatley went to court and was relieved of his responsibility to pay future child support. But he still had to deal with being a deadbeat dad when it was assumed that he was really the dad.

Homerville lawyer Charles Reddick, working as a special assistant state attorney general, prepared an order requiring Hatley to pay the $16,398 he still owed the state for child support.

The August 21, 2001 order, signed by Cook County Superior Court Judge Dane Perkins, acknowledges that Hatley was not Travon's father.

After that, Hatley paid almost $6,000. But last year he was laid off from his job unloading charcoal grills from shipping containers. He became homeless and lived in his car. Still, Hatley made some child support payments using his unemployment benefits.

By May 2008, he apparently had not paid enough. In another order prepared by Reddick and signed by Judge Perkins, Hatley was found in contempt and jailed. When he is released, the order said, Hatley must continue making payments to the state at a rate of $250 a month.

States should begin jailing mothers who wrongfully identify men in paternity actions


Posted by Steve Lombardi

July 27, 2009 — It should be called the Hatley Amendment, in honor of Frank Hatley, a 50-year-old man who's been in jail since June 2008 for not paying child support even though two separate DNA tests in the last nine years prove he's not the father. The courts often times by technical defaults find a man is the father, even though he isn't the father, order him to pay child support, and when he doesn't he goes to jail for contempt of court. Even if wrong, you can't ignore a court's orders. You can appeal them but you can't ignore them. If you do you go to the slammer.

For those mothers who wrongfully identify a man as the father, father's rights groups would love to see the accusing mother jailed.

Well, that's not the law, but one wonders if it should be the law. You mother's can calm down you're not going to jail, but many believe you should for wrongfully accusing men you sleep with of being the father of a child born out of wedlock. Poor Frank Hatley sitting in jail all this time for contempt of court for not paying court ordered child support, based on a finding of fact that is clearly incorrect.

Most of you will wonder how this can be happening in America. Let me try to explain. State policy concerning entry of child support orders is broadly stated as follows:

1. That a parent should support their children.

2. That the child is the most important concern.

3. That parent-child relationship, including support orders should be established as close to the births date as possible. [Strongly disagree, the question of paternity must be left undisturbed by the State unless and until a lawsuit is filed for support of the child.]

That's the state policy; when a single mother gives birth and files for state aid for the child the state steps in requiring her to identify the possible fathers. Moral values being what they are many don't know who the sperm donor could be so they either name them all or pick and choose from the possibilities. Some were inebriated and have no clue who they slept with on any given night so those men are allowed a get out of jail card. The state then notifies the likely suspect or suspects, files for a court hearing on paternity and the Court decides on paternity, in many cases based on incomplete evidence.

In some of those cases, probably where only one man has been identified as the most likely suspecting sperm donor, for many reasons doesn't respond to the Petition. In some cases the service was on a relative where the father was thought to live. That's called substitute service. If the father fails to respond, oops sorry Uncle Frank I forgot to give you those papers, the Court enters a default judgment finding this man is the man who gets the child support lottery ticket! The Court then enters Judgment and sends Frank the winner's letter. "Congratulations Frank, You've won the right to pay child support for the next 18 to 22 years! Think of it like you would a lotto jackpot win; except in reverse. Instead of receiving a monthly check you get to send us one!"

Soon Uncle Frank gets news that he's won and he's probably mad, gets a lawyer and they do the DNA tests [if the mother and child can be located, and the child exists] which show that Uncle Frank really isn't Father Frank. He says this isn't fair and the Court says read the rules. The mother sings,

"One, two, three and it's you and me.

Send your check you're up on deck!"

Meanwhile the Franks out there say no way for me to pay. The Franks don't act like fathers and the kids get caught up in a childhood of legal wrangling and fighting that further destroys the fabric of a pleasant childhood. So is the state policy really making any sense? It doesn't seem to be.

So I ask the question what does make sense. Certainly mothers can see the unfairness of making a man pay child support for a child that is someone else's. The States shouldn't have to pay for ADC (Aid to Dependent Children and Title XIX medical benefits) when there is a father out there that can be identified. But is it right for the States to take money from just anyone that has slept, or she says slept with her just because they failed to defend themselves? Even if the man did defend, if a DNA test later shows the man isn't the sperm donor is it right for the States to continue to require him to pay child support on a child that isn't his? It doesn't seem to be.

You might wonder how this miscarriage of justice can be corrected. Simply put if all support orders required a DNA test it would go a long way to avoiding injustices like the one befalling Frank Hatley. But, who is going to pay for the DNA tests when many of those having sex and babies can barely afford to pay the filing fee to file the case? Are the tax payers going to be the one's to do it? We could enter an order requiring the father's to pay. That way if we later find them they could be ordered to reimburse the State.

As a lawyer I find it an interesting legal question, whether the entry of a child support order is state action requiring constitutional safeguards that would also require a DNA test before a child support order could be entered when the alleged putative father is in default; not defending himself.

In conclusion, my title is misleading, you mother's aren't going to jail but I did need to get your attention. You need to do everything you can to make sure these men defend and that you're identifying all the likely suspects. The wrong man is the wrong parent for the child's court ordered father. Childhood isn't in anyway enhanced by the Court finding the Frank Hatley's of the world the putative fathers — when in fact they are not.

And Frank Hatley has a little different fact scenario, based on his discussions with the mother it's reported that he believed he was the father and had agreed to reimburse the State of Georgia.

Hatley had a relationship with Essie Lee Morrison, who had a baby in 1987 and told Hatley the child was his, according to court records. The couple never married and split up shortly afterward.

In 1989, Morrison applied for public assistance through the state Department of Human Resources. Hatley agreed to reimburse the state because he believed the boy was his."

If you've slept with other men then you need to make a complete disclosure to the man you believe is the father. A complete disclosure is necessary for the man to agree he is the father. In those instances the man should have the option to consider DNA testing before agreeing to consent to paternity.

As for Frank Hatley seeking compensation or his friends saying he should be compensated, I don't agree. He agreed to reimburse the State of Georgia. Men have to be smart enough to challenge a woman with a DNA test before consenting to paternity.

Fair is fair and it appears that Frank Hatley didn't have all the necessary information before agreeing to reimburse the State of Georgia. If he had and had agreed to pay I would have no sympathy for him today.

Family court injustices to men


© 2009 by Phyllis Schlafly,

July 21, 2009

• Did you know that a family court can order a man to reimburse the government for the welfare money, falsely labeled "child support," that was paid to the mother of a child to whom he is not related? Did you know that, if he doesn't pay, a judge can sentence him to debtor's prison without ever letting him have a jury trial?

• Did you know that debtor's prisons (putting men in prison because they can't pay a debt) were abolished in the United States before we abolished slavery, but that they exist today to punish men who are too poor to pay what is falsely called "child support"?

• Did you know that when corporations can't pay their debts, they can take bankruptcy, which means they pay off their debts for pennies on the dollar, but a man can never get an alleged "child support" debt forgiven or reduced, even if he is out of a job, penniless and homeless, medically incapacitated, incarcerated (justly or unjustly), or serving in our Armed Forces overseas, can't afford a lawyer, or never owed the money in the first place?

• Did you know that when a woman applying for welfare handouts lies about who the father of her child is, she is never prosecuted for perjury? Did you know that judges can refuse to accept DNA evidence showing that the man she accuses is not the father?

• Did you know that alleged "child support" has nothing to do with supporting a child because the mother has no obligation to spend even one dollar of it on a child, and in many cases none of the "support" money ever gets to a child because it goes to fatten the payroll of the child-support bureaucracy?

These are among the injustices that the feminists, and their docile liberal male allies, have inflicted on men. The sponsor was former Democratic Senator from New Jersey and presidential candidate Bill Bradley.

His name is affixed to the Bradley Amendment, a 1986 federal law that prohibits retroactive reduction of alleged "child support" even in any of the circumstances listed above. The Bradley law denies bankruptcy protections, overrides all statutes of limitation and forbids judicial consideration of obvious inability to pay.

Most Bradley-law victims never come to national attention because, as Bias author Bernard Goldberg said, mainstream media toe the feminist propaganda line, among which is the epithet "deadbeat dads." But one egregious case did make the news this summer.

Frank Hatley was in a Georgia jail for more than a year for failure to pay alleged "child support" even though a DNA test nine years ago plus a second one this year proved that he is not the father. The August 21, 2001, court order, signed by Judge Dane Perkins, acknowledged that Hatley is not the father but nevertheless ordered him to continue paying and never told him he could have a court-appointed lawyer if he could not afford one.

Hatley subsequently paid the government (not the mom or child) thousands of dollars in "child support," and after he was laid off from his job unloading charcoal grills from shipping containers and reduced to living in his car, he continued making payments out of his unemployment benefits.

But he didn't pay enough to satisfy the avaricious child-support bureaucrats, so Judge Perkins ruled Hatley in contempt and sent him to jail without any jury trial. With the help of a Legal Services lawyer, he has now been relieved from future assessments and released from jail, but (because of the Bradley Amendment) the government is demanding that Hatley continue paying at the rate of $250 a month until he pays off the $16,398 debt the government claims he accumulated earlier (even though the court then knew he was not the father).

This system is morally and constitutionally wrong, yet all the authorities say the court orders were lawful.


Iowa Supreme Court allows paternity-fraud lawsuit


Telegraph Herald

Justices hope the threat of litigation will deter mothers from lying about the identity of the father.

June 2, 2012 — A mother who falsely represents the identity of the father of her child can be sued for fraud and ordered to pay back financial support she received, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The court reluctantly opened the door to claims of paternity fraud, a controversial and particularly messy area of litigation that had not been recognized in Iowa. Chief Justice Mark Cady warned litigants to use caution in bringing such cases, saying they would be hard to prove, emotional and embarrassing.

"In the end, it becomes painfully obvious that parties pushed into the justice system over a paternity fraud claim could never leave it unscathed, and the standards of justice will certainly be stretched to their limits, even if justice is attainable," Cady wrote in a concurrence to the 7-0 decision. "This consequence may cause many reasonable, caring people to simply leave the claim dormant for the betterment of others."

The court ruled that Joseph Dier of Grundy Center can sue Cassandra Jo Peters for fraud to try to recover money he spent supporting a daughter born in February 2009 who turned out not to be his. Dier, 28, claims Peters enticed him into believing he was the father to get money and that he supported them for more than two years.

In December 2009, Dier filed a court petition seeking full custody. Last year, Peters claimed Dier was not the father and requested a paternity test after she feared she would lose custody of the child, Dier alleges. Two subsequent paternity tests excluded him as the child's father.

Dier filed a lawsuit last year seeking to recover money he spent supporting Peters, 25, and the child, as well as legal fees he spent on the custody dispute.

Judge David Staudt threw out the case in September, ruling that the "current status of the law demands that this case be dismissed."

Friday's ruling overturns Staudt's decision, sending the case back for a trial. To prevail, Dier would have to prove Peters knowingly lied when she told him he was the father and that he was justified in relying on her claim. Dier can recover only the out-of-pocket expenses he spent supporting them and not legal fees, the court ruled.

Peters' attorney, Lynn Wiese, said Peters and Dier assumed Dier was the father and his client did not commit fraud. He had urged justices to bar lawsuits between misidentified fathers and mothers. He argued instead they should sue the biological fathers, who had gotten off without paying support.

"This sort of case won't come without a price," Wiese said, warning that young children could be forced to testify. "These will not be pleasant lawsuits."

Justices said courts in other states have split on whether to allow paternity fraud claims. The Iowa Supreme Court had deadlocked 3-3 in 2004 on the issue, a split that upheld a lower court's decision barring such claims on policy grounds.

Courts in states such as Nebraska have barred the lawsuits by arguing they are too harmful for children and families. Judges in other states, such as Illinois, have found that allowing fraud victims to recover money outweighs the potential harm.

The Iowa justices sided with the latter camp Friday, ruling that paternity fraud claims "fit comfortably within the traditional boundaries of fraud law." Allowing such cases could also deter lying by mothers, they found.

"It is true that Dier's success in the litigation could diminish the resources that Peters has available in the future to support (the daughter), but this would be true of any lawsuit against Peters," Justice Edward Mansfield wrote. "We have never afforded parents a general defense from tort liability on the ground they need all their money to raise their children."

According to Iowa law a man cannot recover past child support he paid once establishing he is not a child's biological father but is relieved from pending and future obligations. Mansfield said that law applies only to court-ordered child support and not voluntary payments, such as the ones made by Dier.

Cady said paternity fraud cases would be extremely difficult, not unlike divorce and custody disputes.

"The proceedings that ultimately unfold in a courtroom are not easy or pleasant for anyone involved," he wrote, "but the court is nevertheless necessary to provide a forum for addressing an alleged wrong that has already occurred within a family unit."



| EJF Home | Find Help | Join the EJF | Comments? | Get EJF newsletter |


| Families And Marriage Book | Abstract | Family site map | Family index |


| Chapter 7 — Paternity Fraud Epidemic |

| Next — Injustice By Default by Matt Welch |

| Back — Who's Your Daddy? by Cecily Ruttenberg |


Added September 19, 2006

Last modified 4/11/15