NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

October 7, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

This would be a pretty run-of-the-mill case except for one thing (Daily Mail, 10/4/18).

We’ve seen countless like it before: a man is contacted by his state’s child support agency telling him he owes some enormous sum of back child support, but he knows for a fact that (a) he has no children or (b) the child in question isn’t his because he never had sex with its mother. The trials and tribulations suffered by those men are legion and fairly well publicized. Gabriel Cornejo of Houston is one example. The State of Texas ordered him to pay $65,000 in child support for a child who isn’t his.

Now, in many of those cases, the state sent a letter to the man claimed to be the father, telling him to show up in court, but the man ignored the letter reasoning that, since the child isn’t his, the state can’t possibly tag him with support. Bad move, very bad move.

Once he fails to appear, the state takes a default judgment against him and he’s forever obligated to pay support because, according to the law, he had his chance to contest the matter and didn’t take it.

Of course that legal procedure is perfectly sound and also perfectly nutty when it comes to child support. One of the main points of child support isn’t to quickly move the judge’s docket, but to ensure that parents support their children. In the process, it (in theory) establishes those rights. None of those sensible goals is furthered by obligating a non-father to pay.

Still that’s how we do it.

So what’s different about the Ohio case reported in the Daily Mail? The difference is that the non-parent being tagged with support by the state is a woman. Yes, somehow Ohio decided that Nekia Jones is the mother of a child. The only problem being that she’s never been pregnant.

A young woman has had her license suspended for the past three months for not paying child support - but she doesn't have any children. 
Nekia Jones, from Columbus, Ohio, got a harmless traffic ticket for a seat belt violation In July.
But when she went to court to pay the fine she was instead charged with failure to pay child support and had her license suspended.  
Now, the woman who's never had children or been pregnant says a case of mistaken identity has left her still without a license and relying on car-sharing apps and family members for rides to work.

Yes, those are problems alright, but nothing compared to the fact that (a) she has a child support judgment against her, (b) the child isn’t hers and (c) she apparently did what some fathers do – ignore a summons to court to contest parentage. Indeed, the court document imaged by in the article clearly says “Failure to Appear – Child Support.”

Of course notice could have been sent to the wrong address, but, until we find out otherwise, I’ll say that she received notice of the claim against her. If she did, and if she’s treated by the state the way it treats men similarly situated, Nekia Jones can look forward to paying to support a child who unquestionably isn’t hers.

Stay tuned.

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