May 3, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
I must confess that I have little sympathy for this man (News.com.au., 5/3/17). As an advocate for family court reform, I know I’m supposed to, but the facts add up to one simple thing – he didn’t take responsibility for the possible consequences of his own actions. Do I have no sympathy for him? No. His story plainly highlights some of the manifold and great faults of the Australian child support system. But the simple fact is that, if he’d done one simple thing – wear a condom – he likely wouldn’t be in the mess he’s in. That doesn’t make a bad situation good; it doesn’t make a senseless system sensible or an unjust one just.
But the stupidity, injustice and misandry of the child support system don’t absolve the man in the article or any other man of taking reasonable, cheap and easy precautions for his own well-being.
In this I disagree with Karen Straughan, a.k.a. Girl Writes What. She’s arguably the best informed and most influential advocate for men and boys in the world and she has my huge respect. But in one of her videos, she argued that women have the greater responsibility for contraception use than do men, in large part because they bear the consequences. They do indeed bear the physical consequences of nine months of pregnancy, should they choose to carry the pregnancy to term, and childbirth. But men bear the financial consequences of 18 years (at least) of child support and, often as not, the emotional blow of having a child access to which they’re denied.
There’s a simple rule for men. If you’re going to have sex and don’t want a child, do what you can to prevent it. That means wearing a condom or, if your decision is permanent, have a vasectomy. Those aren’t great alternatives, but they’re the only ones men have until Vasalgel comes on the market in the next couple of years.
The pseudonymous man in the article met a woman on Facebook, went to meet her in person one day, the two had drinks and then sex. They then went their separate ways. Twelve weeks later, she called him to say she was pregnant. He was stunned, for reasons I can’t guess at. After all, he knew he hadn’t used a condom and he says nothing about her having claimed to be on the pill, so her pregnancy shouldn’t have come as any great surprise.
Still, the little boy has so far cost him a lot of money and even more heartache.
I did the DNA test just before Christmas and had to stew on the results until January 20. The DNA cost me $2,000 plus I paid a lawyer, which cost around $5,000.
The Child Support Agency (CSA) then backdated the child support to the birth of my son. Just like that I was $12,000 out of pocket.
I was left reeling, worried sick, thinking, “How am I going to pay my mortgage and bills plus this?” It was an absolute nightmare.
In the end, I had to rent my place out.
My partner and I moved in with my parents.
I was struggling at work and ended up resigning. Life has been a complete disaster since. Actually, that’s an understatement. My mental health is in a bad way. I have no idea how it will hold up for the next 12 years while I have to pay this.
Why am I paying 100 per cent child support? I haven’t seen him once. A lawyer for the family court charges around $500 per hour. I don’t have that financial capacity. I’m left going round in circles thinking, “Why would somebody do this? What do I owe her?”
That of course brings us to the injustice of the system. On what planet does a DNA test cost $2,000? That’s 10 times what one costs in the United States, so how does it cost that much in Australia?
He paid a lawyer $5,000, but for what? Clearly the lawyer didn’t do that most obvious of things – get an access order for his client. After all, the man was proven to be the father and, if he’s paying child support, he has a right to see his son. $5,000 seems a steep price for a lawyer to read a report from a DNA testing lab and say “Yes, mate, you’re the dad alright.”
And of course there’s the fact that the child support system was happy to represent the mother, probably free of charge, to establish paternity and drag Dad into court for a support order. Why doesn’t the same system lift a finger so the little tyke can see his father regularly? If it can get an order of support for her, why can’t it get an access order for him? Indeed, why doesn’t it do so as a matter of course? At $500 per hour, the man can’t afford a lawyer to do the work that needs doing and my guess is that few Australian men can. The child support system should insure that, with the requirement of child support comes the benefit of child access. After all, kids need both parents.
All that is true and fairly screams for reform. And if there are men in Australia who are ignorant of how the system works, I hope the linked-to article helps them understand what goes on and take the appropriate precautions in their own lives.
But none of the anti-child/anti-dad aspects of the system justify irresponsible behavior on the part of the man in the article or any other man. Clearly, they make sensible, responsible actions by them all the more necessary.
Until we pass laws that protect both men and women, men need to take matters into their own hands and that means, at the very least, availing themselves of the few contraceptive methods available to them.
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.
#paternity, #DNAtesting, #condoms, #Vasalgel, #childsupport