August 21, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
A British man, Stephen Carter, is furious after paying some £31,000 in child support payments for a girl fathered by another man. He’s not only angry at the mother for duping him, but, as this article shows, at the Child Support Agency that assured him he’d be repaid for the falsely withheld sums, only to renege on the deal (Mirror, 8/19/14).
Like most men who come into contact with this particularly loathsome aspect of family law, Carter’s eyes have been opened. It took a massive injustice to do it, but he’s starting to understand.
He said:”I had a one night stand with the mother of this girl on two occasions. She was with a boyfriend at the time.
“She obviously looked at me like a cash cow. It was a fling 23 years ago and the girl is now 22-years-old.
Check. It continues to astonish that, while governments throughout the English-speaking world and elsewhere bend heaven and earth to “establish paternity” for children born out of wedlock, they do nothing to ensure the mother’s telling the truth when she names a man as the father. That allows women like Carter’s sometime paramour to simply pick which man looks like the best earner and name him as the dad. That of course is precisely Carter’s point. He looked like the better source of cash and so he was forced to fight the CSA for 11 years to prove what she said was false. Why not just do genetic testing as a matter of course?
“I work in a nightclub and the CSA contacted my employers and took my money. They accepted her word with no proof at all. I always said she was not my child.
“I wore protection which I know is not 100 per cent - but from day one I knew she was not my child.
“Now the British Government seem to be penny-pinching off me. I work all the hours I can every day and have not had a holiday in nine years.
Check. The CSA asked the woman who the father is, she gave them Carter’s name and they accepted her claim despite his protests. It’s the same old story. Every woman who has sex with more than one man at or near the time of conception knows she did so. Almost certainly the men do not know there is more than one possible father. So why is it that no law anywhere requires that simplest of things of mothers – that they tell the truth about paternity? If she had sex with John one week and Jim the next, she can’t possibly know who the father of the resulting child is. But nowhere is there a requirement that she divulge the names of all the possible fathers so that each can be tested and the actual dad can both pay to support the child and have the opportunity to play the paternal role.
Elsewhere in the law, the person/entity with knowledge of material facts is generally the one required to disclose those facts. So if I want to sell my car and I know it has a defect, I’m required to tell the prospective buyer. Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) went out the window a long time ago and for good reason. The best of those reasons is that it doesn’t make sense to expect a buyer, who knows nothing about the thing purchased, to be the one to somehow figure out if it has a defect. It’s far fairer and more sensible to place the duty of disclosure on the one with knowledge of whatever’s being conveyed, i.e. the seller or manufacturer.
We should do the same with paternity determinations. They men don’t know with whom their paramour had sex, but she does know. Therefore, she should be the one to disclose the possibility that there’s more than one man who may be the father. But, just and reasonable as such an approach would be, nowhere does the law require that she do so.
“I don’t know if the girl knows who her real dad is. I feel sorry for her but I have had no contact with her mother.”
Check. That’s one of the many problems with paternity fraud – the child doesn’t know his/her real father and of course the real father doesn’t know his child. I suspect that for years this girl assumed (or was told) that her father wanted nothing to do with her. After all, that’s how Carter behaved. But unknown to her, he did so because he was sure she wasn’t his. How would her true father have acted? We don’t know and she doesn’t know. But throughout her young life, she probably felt all the feelings a child experiences who believes she’s been shunned by one of her parents. Governments that grant mothers every leeway in their behavior never seem to grasp that obvious fact and their failure harms kids.
“But whoever her biological father is has got away with it and not paid a penny.”
Check. We pretend that one reason for our absurdly draconian laws governing child support is to place responsibility for children on their parents where it rightly belongs. We make the claim in all cases except for those involving paternity fraud and then the concept vanishes like the morning mist. In those cases we allocate parental obligations and rights, not on the basis of who the father is but on the basis of who Mom says he is. And if that turns out to be wrong – even intentionally so – well, c’est la vie. Yes, some other man brought this little girl into the world, but has paid nary a shilling to support her. Mom decided that Carter should be the responsible party and the CSA agreed, regardless of the facts.
And needless to say, the real father had no opportunity to be a father to his daughter about whom he apparently knows nothing, and she’s had no chance to know her dad. All of that is because law and custom permit women to pick and choose who they want to be “the father” of their child.
Now of course we have genetic testing that can sort the matter out to a certainty. But Carter fought the CSA for years trying to do just that and ended up paying a whopping £1,000 to do so. (Why did it cost so much?) And to make a bad situation much worse, the CSA promised him they’d repay the money if he turned out not to be the father.
But dad-of-two Steven, from Exeter, said the CSA has refused to repay him the money even though officials promised in two separate letters that he would get a rebate if he was proven not to be the girl’s dad.
One letter written by a CSA manager in August 2013 - referring to a private DNA test - said: “If this shows that he is not the parent of the child then he will be refunded back any money he has made (sic).”
As they say, that was then and this is now.
But a Department of Work and Pensions source said such a rebate would not be considered if the paternity test was taken after the child had become an adult and the case was closed.
A DWP spokesman said:”If a person continues to make child support payments for year after year, the assumption has to be that they accept parentage.
So not only did the CSA renege on its written promise (i.e. it breached its contract with Carter), it did so on the strange and apparently unfounded basis that, once the child becomes an adult, all bets are off. Where did the CSA locate such an odd notion? Nowhere anyone else has been able to find.
But Steven’s lawyer Kate Baker said: ”We have not been provided with any legislation from the CSA which justifies them withholding payment to our client.”
But, legislation or not, what sense does it make to stick Carter with the bill for a child who’s not his and toward whom he’s never acted as her father? For that matter, what sense does it make to require the real biological dad to pay? After all, he’s missed his daughter’s entire childhood for the sole reason that her mother decided that he should. And of course his daughter’s grown up without a father for the same reason. For the most part the law says that parental obligations and parental rights go hand in hand, that, if a dad pays, he should be able to have contact with the child he’s supporting. So it would scarcely be right for the young woman’s father to be made to pay, given that he was never permitted to even know she exists.
Someone needs to end up holding the bag in this case and I think that person should be the wrongdoer, i.e. the mother. Everyone else in this sorry tale is innocent except her. CSA should repay Carter and demand reimbursement from her.
National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization
National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved? Here’s how:
Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.
#childsupport, #paternityfraud, #reimbursement, #ChildSupportAgency