A fugitive people within a nation is tyranny.

Posts tagged ‘paternity test’

Deadbeat Dad not even a Dad

by Charlie Mitchell

“Is it working?” That’s an easy question most of the time. Problem is, when lawmakers and regulation writers fix something broken, they rarely ask. They stick to their fix whether it works or not.

Alaexander-child-support-victimConsider the predicament of Carnell Alexander.

In 1991, Alexander, who lives in Michigan, was pulled over for a traffic violation. When police “ran” his license, an arrest warrant popped up. Nonpayment of child support. Cuffed, taken to jail.

Talk about ruining your day.

It seems an ex-girlfriend had identified him as the father of her son who was born in 1978.

He didn’t think he could be the father, so when he posted bond he decided to find her. She wasn’t at the address in any of the public records. He knew her legal name may have changed and he couldn’t afford a private investigator.

He was on his own. Eventually, they met. “Well, no,” she said (or something like that) when he asked if he had a son. The mom confessed that she had become lean of funds and applied for public benefits. The paperwork required she name the father of her child. She didn’t mean any harm, but no name, no check. She felt she had no choice. And she was sorry, by the way. Paternity tests confirmed Alexander was not the father.

Same fate could await many, many men in Mississippi.

Now, there are a more twists and turns in the facts of the Michigan case, but we’ve got enough for now.

Let’s look at this from the viewpoint of those who decided a mom could not get a check unless the name of a dad was provided.

That’s a reasonable rule, isn’t it?

Why should taxpayers subsidize clothing, food and housing for a child when a biological parent, perhaps with a fat paycheck, has danced away?

Lots of dads do. Welfare rolls could be chopped if more men would be men and meet the obligations that come with parenthood.

It was a good fix. If it worked.

Back to Alexander. The state insists it tried to serve him with court papers, but the person paid to provide the summons lied about it. He wasn’t served. (Seems to be a lot of lying in Michigan.)

When Alexander did go before a judge, most recently in February, she refused to laugh it all off and send him on his way. Instead, she ruled that because so much time had passed he might have to pay the state $30,000 for aid to a child that is not his, that he didn’t know existed for more than 10 years and is now, what, 37 years old? There’s also some discrepancy in the paperwork; perhaps at one time in some way he did agree to support the child, but likely before the paternity test ruled him out.

Slippery slopes leading to nonsensical conclusions are not at all unusual in a bureaucracy, any bureaucracy. Explosive program growth is part of this, too.

Desires to help lead to programs, programs lead to rules and then the rules need rules. The premise that a child should not go hungry is valid. The premise that parents, if able, must support their own children is valid. Rarely, however, does the machinery of government take a step back to see (1) if desired goals are being met and (2) if not, why not.

Instead, more and more rules are created and less and less efficiency results. No one understands the IRS Code. The document containing the law, rules, regulations and interpretations of federal tax law is 70,000 pages. The average Bible is 900; the U.S. Constitution could easily fit on 12. Social Security kicked off as a required pension plan with contributions returned to retirees. It was never to cost a penny of public funds, but is running deficits of about $77 billion each year.

The takeaway, of course, is that in ways large and small good ideas don’t always pan out or, said another way, fail to perform as intended.

Some legal scholars now advocate every new law at every level of governance contain an automatic repeal — forcing a review.

Not a bad idea.

But Alexander has no time for abstractions. He’s still got that $30,000 debt hanging over him. “I feel like I’m standing in front of a brick wall with nowhere to go,” he said.

Regulators may propose mandatory paternity tests going forward, but that adds time, expense, confusion expense and more complications.

Another fix to fix the fix of the fix.

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The Fairness of Paternity Fraud

by Diane Dimond

kangaroo courtThere is a lot of unfairness in the world. The American justice system stands ready to counter that, right?

Not so fast.

When it comes to men and allegations of paternity, women have a decidedly upper hand. Whatever the woman claims in court most often becomes fact. And once a court has ruled on paternity and established child support, it can be next to impossible to change — even if a DNA test excludes the man from any possibility of parenthood.

Across the country, men of all ages, colors and social statuses have been ordered by family courts to pay child support for children that aren’t theirs.

dna test

In one infamous case in New Mexico, a man shelled out years of support for a daughter who never actually existed. His deceitful ex-wife simply told the court there was such a child, and no proof was ever requested.

Some victims of paternity fraud find out the truth while they are still married. In Michigan, Murray Davis discovered that two of his three children were actually fathered by his best friend. But by that time, the kids were nearly teenagers, well past the legal deadline for Davis to contest paternity in that state.

Carnell Smith, of Atlanta, Georgia, discovered that the daughter he’d been raising with his girlfriend wasn’t his. But the courts didn’t want to hear it. Smith was stuck. Like Davis, this falsely identified “father” began to lobby for changes in his state’s law.

Smith started a group called U.S. Citizens Against Paternity Fraud and got Georgia to join Ohio in being one of only two states that allow an unlimited time for a man to challenge paternity as long as the child support case is open.

Many states require a man to file a challenge before the child’s third birthday. The federal law gives a man just 60 days.

chronic-stress“That’s pretzel logic, isn’t it?” Smith asked me. “Don’t tell a man the truth, and then penalize him for not correcting the record fast enough. Some men don’t realize what’s happened,” Smith said, “until they are under water with child support payments and then have no money to pay an attorney to fight for them.”

Also working against the wronged man is the Bradley Amendment, a federal law that prohibits state judges from retroactively modifying child support orders.

None of it sounds fair, does it? But it happens all the time. Judicial reasoning ranges from, “it’s in the best interest of the child,” to, “he didn’t challenge the paternity claim immediately.”

Carnell Alexander of Detroit has been under a court-ordered cloud for nearly 30 years.

graft and corruption doctorIn 1987, his ex-girlfriend applied for welfare to support her new baby. She put Alexander’s name down as the father even though he wasn’t. A process server swore he served Alexander with papers demanding he appear in court, so when Alexander didn’t show up, he was declared a “deadbeat dad.”

Truth is, Alexander was never notified. He was in prison at the time on an unrelated charge stemming from a youthful crime. He didn’t find out about his problem until a traffic stop in 1991.

The mother in question now admits, “Everything is my fault.” She told a Detroit TV station, “He shouldn’t have to pay it at all. I want everything to go away for him so he can get on with his life.”

Despite the mother’s lies to the state, despite a definitive DNA test excluding Alexander as the father, he still owes $30,000 in support for, as he puts it, “A child that I did not father … that I was not involved in raising.” He adds, “It is not fair.”

There’s that phrase again. It is not fair.

baby moneyMurray Davis, who established the National Family Justice Association after his painful experience, says Alexander, “Is only one among tens of thousands in this state and possibly hundreds of thousands or millions around the nation who are victims of this abhorrent crime of paternity fraud.”

Fair seems rare in these cases, but a creative-thinking judge in Virginia found a way around that pesky Bradley Amendment. He ruled that a defrauded man who still legally owed $23,000 in back child support could pay it off at a rate of one dollar a year — for 1, 917 years! You gotta love that.

This kind of fraud happens to young men going off to college, to soldiers going overseas, to men of all ages and occupations. And it ruins lives. Biological children of the falsely identified, new wives, grandparents and others are all profoundly affected by paternity fraud.

Having the best interest of a child in mind is knowing the child’s lineage and medical history. The best interest of society is to have a respected family court that is fair to all.

DNA tests cost about $30 these days. It’s time for automatic court-ordered DNA testing in all child-support cases.

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Child Support Injustice in Texas

Men in Texas who are told by the state to pay thousands of dollars in child support, but they are not the father of the children. The state knows it, but is making them pay support any way.

Rey Valdez was in the middle of a divorce years ago when his first wife told him she was pregnant. He wound up paying $300 a month in child support for his young son, but when the boy was a teenager, Valdez got an anonymous call. “I got a phone call, and I was told that, ‘You need to look at who really is father of [the child] because you are not,’ and that angered me. I mean, how dare they?”

Confused and concerned after the call, he bought a DNA test. The results showed Valdez was not the boy’s father. “It wasn’t right,” said Valdez, “I just couldn’t believe something like this could happen.” He went back to court and the judge ordered the Attorney General’s Child Support office to do a DNA test. That office got the same result, that Valdez is not the biological father.

Despite those results, the judge ordered Valdez to keep paying child support. So far, he estimates he’s shelled out about $18,000 to his ex-wife for the boy. Valdez said, “It’s money that could go to my children, my wife, myself, but I’m still paying it, cause the law tells me to.”

The law in Texas says a father only has four years to challenge paternity. If they find out after four years that they are not the father, like Rey Valdez, the law says they are still the parent and still required to pay child support.

State Representative Harold Dutton has tried to pass paternity fraud legislation that would allow a father the right to challenge paternity with a DNA test at any time. Until this is changed the state of Texas is participating in fraud. In this case, the state of Texas supports a total lack of morality on the part Valdez’s ex-wife.

“We have to fix it so the person paying child support is actually the father, and whatever we have to do to fix that, that’s what I think we have to do,” said Dutton. His bill hasn’t passed because he says the Attorney Generals office, which collects child support, opposes it.

The AG’s office denies Dutton’s statement. We wanted to ask Attorney General Greg Abbott about paternity fraud, but we only got this statement:

“The Office of the Attorney General is obligated to follow the law. We must honor court orders that establish paternity and require the payment of child support. Our staff always encourages men to obtain paternity testing when it is a legal option.” Men in Texas know better. This writer knows many men in Texas stuck in this very position because of immoral wives. Essentially, the state supports immorality and fraud in the name of children’s rights.

Representative Dutton said he’ll file his bill again next year, but he said he needs your help. You can contact your state representative and senator and tell them to support the change. Spread the Word. Eliminate unconstitutional laws. While you are at it, write your lawmaker about the Bradley Amendment and get it repealed in the name of America.

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