Sunday, October 24, 2004

Paternity Disestablishment

I looked at some cases on paternity disestablishment and I am astounded at what I found. There are apparently lots of men paying child support for kids even when a DNA test proves them not to be the father.

Here is a case from the Illinois supreme court within the last month. It turns out that Congress forced the states to make it difficult to men to prove non-paternity:
In 1996, changes in Title IV-D of the Social Security Act restricted challenges to voluntary paternity to within 60 days of the time a child support order is established, and required that "a voluntary acknowledgment may be challenged in court only on the basis of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact, with the burden of proof on the challenger." (42 U.S.C. §666(a)(5)(D)(ii-iii) (2000))
Illinois passed laws to conform to the feds, and then in 1998 passed a law that:
"allows a man who has been adjudicated the father of a child pursuant to the presumption that he is the father due to the marriage, if there is a DNA test discovers that the man is not the natural father, then the orders involving custody, visitation and child support can be declared null and void." (Emphasis added.) 90th Ill. Gen. Assem., Senate Proceedings, April 1, 1998, at 10.
Nevertheless, the Illinois supreme court ignored the 1998 law, and forced the man to continue to pay child support for the kid that a DNA test proved that he did not father.

Up until now, I had assumed that the evil of state paternity laws was based on states being slow to adapt to DNA technology. But apparently there are much more insidious forces at work. States are making non-fathers pay up just because they don't want to jeopardize some federal funding. The feds have no business messing with paternity laws.

The laws are fundamentally biased and unfair. They are biased because there are no constraints on women challenging parentage decisions. A woman can use a DNA test at any time to eliminate any support obligations that she might have. But a man cannot.

Some of these paternity decisions include in their reasoning a statement that a false paternity should be maintained because it is in the best interests of the child. Recognizing a DNA test might bastardize the child, and the child might benefit from child support payments to the mother. But it is also grotesquely unfair to make a husband pay for his wife's adultery.

1 comment:

George said...

Masculiste, you are way ahead of me. I had no idea.