Friday, January 28, 2005

Hope for some legal changes

John sends this Wendy McElroy column on Removing Legal Incentives To Lie and Law aids paternity fraud victims.
Paternity fraud cases typically languished until two pivotal events last year.
The first was a June court decision in the case of Whittier, Calif., construction worker Manuel Navarro.
Mr. Navarro's saga started in 1996, when a woman who lived in his neighborhood named "Manuel Nava" as the father of her twin boys. Child support officials assumed Mr. Navarro was the father and sent a summons to his sister's home. When Mr. Navarro didn't respond within 30 days, the court established a $247-a-month child support order for him by default.
This "default" practice is not uncommon in California. More than 70 percent of the state's child support orders were established by default — a rate that is "dramatically higher" than in other states, Urban Institute researchers said in a 2003 study of California's child support system.
In 2001, with DNA proof that he was not the father, Mr. Navarro, represented by Miss Ferrer, sued to have his child support order thrown out. A lower court refused, saying too much time had elapsed, but Mr. Navarro won on appeal. ...
The second pivotal event came in September when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a paternity fraud law called AB 252, which allows men to challenge established child support orders under limited circumstances. It went into effect Jan. 1.
Of course, Navarro isn't going to get his money back, and his false accuser will not be prosecuted. The new law gives the man a little more opportunity to challenge paternity, but there will still be men who have to pay in spite of DNA proof.

That 70% figure is really amazing. The next time you hear about a California deadbeat dad, remember that he was probably not even allowed his day in court.

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