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Friday, February 23rd 2007

Dads Who Aren't Dads

A Tennessee law would exempt men who turn out not to be the biological father from paying child support. (h/t Reddit)

The anomaly of fathers who, some substantial time into their child’s life, learn that the child isn’t their’s but must continue to pay child support has always seemed weird and wrong. Here’s an account of a Florida case on the Oklahoma Family law Blog,

This is a man who didn’t learn he wasn’t the father until the child was 3-years-old. The Florida Supreme Court ruled unanimously against his fraud suit against the mother.

“We recognize that the former husband in this case may feel victimized,” [Justice Bell] 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.”

May feel victimized? This would be one of the most crushing things ever, especially if the mother had been deceitful. I’d rather come home and find my house completely empty than lose my child and my money this way.

The Oklahoma Family Law Blog summarizes it thusly,

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


More from the Oklahoma Family Law blog,

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 addition to Florida, Ohio, Georgia, Maryland, Alabama, Indiana, Virginia, Arizona, and Wyoming [ed: and hopefully soon Tennessee] 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.

I don’t know the measures of the proposed Tennessee law but the Florida law,

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.

The emphasis is my own. Personally, while exempting them from future payments is a step in the right direction, if you can prove some sort of intentional fraud on the part of the mother then shouldn’t you be able to try to collect what you’ve already paid her?

I guess we know how highly I value “child welfare,” with an attitude like this.

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