Friday, October 22, 2004

Deadbeat dads given chance to prove their innocence

In California, a man can be sued for child support without ever being served papers, and ordered to pay child support without ever appearing in court. It gets worse:
Mr. Riddick said he was assigned a child support payment by default after a woman he knew named him the father of her child. The 1994 payment grew over time to $1,400 per month for the past four years.
Mr. Riddick said he found out he wasn't the father in 1996 after he was arrested as "a deadbeat dad." The criminal-court judge ordered DNA testing for Mr. Riddick, the mother and the child. "It showed I had a 0 percent chance of being the father of this child," he said.
The criminal-court judge threw out the charge, but when Mr. Riddick tried to get his child- support order overturned in civil court, state officials refused.
"They said the criminal court case had nothing to do with the civil case and I would still have to pay child support for 18 years," Mr. Riddick said. "And I've never even seen this kid."
The consequences have been severe.
"Lost my home, ruined my marriage," he said, adding that the "real victims" are his biological children, whom he has been hard-pressed to support.
The Wash Times article says that:
Last week, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill to allow men to challenge the paternity of children for whom they owe support.
All of the above horrors can still happen, but at least the deadbeat dads will have a window of opportunity to prove that they are not even dads.

The family court is still a Mickey Mouse court. If it were a real court, then the alleged deadbeat dad would be entitled to its day in court, and the plaintiff would have to prove its case. He should be innocent until proven guilty.

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