Sunday, November 29, 2009

More on Paternity Fraud

My own News:  New York Times Rips on Paternity Laws and DNA  and Updating  New York Times Rips on Paternity Laws and DNA seems not to have drawn much attention to you, my readers, but this issue about paternity fraud is very large problem.  Here are some other articles commenting on The New York Times' article I commented on or on paternity fraud more generally.

Jeanne Hannah's Paternity fraud | "Duped Dads" | What's the answer? has wealth of material that applies to more than her Michigan beat.  She states the problem quite well (much more succinctly than did the Times' writer):

The answer is not easy or predictable: There is no right answer. Every case is dependent upon its own unique set of facts and also upon the specific law of the state in the US having jurisdiction over the issues. These are tough questions; they are often expensive and complicated to resolve.

Here is one resource she notes that I was not aware of:
Another valuable resource that examines the consequences and fully discusses The Uniform Parentage Act ["UPA"] is Morgan, Laura: Morgan, Laura Wish, The New Uniform Parentage Act (2000): Parenting for the Millennium, 13 Divorce Litig. 41 (March 2001) [Last accessed November 22, 2009] The UPA would help states resolve these questions in a manner that is, I believe, better for children. The UPA has been enacted in only nine states. Unfortunately, Michigan is not one of them.

Family Law Practice published Paternity which tries to put this kind of problem into context of one father to another.  I think he succeeds.  However, he may have hit on the cause of why this problem festers:  "People don’t like to discuss paternity suits in polite society",

Some of us do not have the luxury of dealing with "polite society" only.  Here are some of those responses.

Paternity Fraud Crusader Carnell Smith Responds to New York Times Hatchet Job from Mens News Daily:
Regarding Chandria, Carnell says his ex-girlfriend said he could only see her if he paid the child support, and Carnell refused. He says the ex-girlfriend said that Carnell and his family couldn't see Chandria unless via supervised visitation. He says his ex-girlfriend and her attorney asked the court to jail him for not paying after the DNA test. He says:
[My] motives have always been clear--to save my family from the clutches of the ex-girlfriend, her attorney and the child support enforcement system. [My] opponents demanded more money while reducing and eliminating my parenting time.
I thought there was little to comment here until I got to this part of the story.  Mr. Smith refused to be a victim.  Other fathers - not all of them duped fathers either - need to know that they do not pay support so that they can see their children.  That is called contempt of court.

Feminist Law Professors has On Forging Sustainable Parental Bonds and this very long paragraph: 
We read the article with a shock of recognition. In a 2003 article, Which Ties Bind? Redefining The Parent-Child Relationship In An Age Of Genetic Certainty, 11 Wm. & Mary Bill of Rts. J. 1011 (2003), we suggested, after a lengthy review of the cases, that couples who wanted the relationship to last rarely inquired too closely about paternity, while at least one of separating couples had a powerful incentive to find out the truth. Yet, parent-child relationships based on the truth had a better chance of surviving than those based on falsehood. We wrote: The only way to forge parental bonds likely to survive the child’s minority therefore is to treat the issue of parenthood separately from the issue of partnership. As a modest effort in this direction, we propose modifying existing law to require mandatory paternity, or second parent, determination at birth. We then concluded that the law should encourage establishing paternity as part of the child’s record, and that waivers should be allowed only where both parents clearly understood that they were forever foregoing the opportunity to challenge the father’s parental status.

We thought it was a good idea then, and we still do.
Now if we can get the state legislatures thinking like this, too.  

I can only describe Fathers, DNA and "Real" Parents from Confessions of An Absentee Father
as a meditation on being a father.  No, it is not a piece by a lawyer but illustrates some of the problems described above by Ms. Hannah and what I think the authors at Feminist Law Professors hope to remedy.

(Having skimmed Confessions of An Absentee Father, I suggest those who would consign paternity issues to some secret backroom take a look.  Here is his description of the blog's purpose:
Nearly twenty-two years ago a life came into this world. I fathered her. It was not planned and her mother and I were not in a relationship. I held her in my hands. I was in awe ... shock ... confusion. Then ... I was gone. Here is what happened in the beginning, what happened afterwards, what's happening now and what I hope happens in the future.)
So far you may notice how complementary all these blog posts are whether written by men or women, and here is another from Mother to Son Blog.  In a post entitled You're Not The Father, the writer has this to say:
Now I’m all for protecting the interest of the child, but what sense does this make. After all, the men stuck paying child support in many of these cases are men who took the obligation of fatherhood seriously. They lived up to what they thought was their responsibility only to find out that they’ve been lied to and that the court system can offer very little, if any, recourse.

Such antiquated laws will only push men to question paternity first and take responsibility later. I would rather see those fathers who acted in good faith be allowed to stop making any furtherchild support payments but be unable to recoup already paid child support payments. 
 (Also, do read the comments to this post).

Paternity Rights: Losing Fatherhood from Nah, Nope, Not Quite Blog seems to lose the point in light of some agenda :
Some advocates now suggest that their be mandatory paternity tests for all fathers at birth to avoid this problem. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL. The entire tone of the article suggests a kind of mystification as to why these men would be so upset about this.
I mean, really?
Only in a country as feminized as America could something like this happen. This is sickening.
His criticism of the article's writer seems misplaced - it is not that we are so feminized (which would probably come as a surprise to the writers of The Feminist Law Professors Blog) but that we are dealing with a very old morality enshrined in our paternity law statutes.  (Having said that, I would have loved to hear what the mother had to say.  In my one case on this subject, the mother had thought my client was at birth and agreed with us that he could not be the father - only the court decided that ordering a paternity test was a bad idea.)

NJ Family Issues Blog has the shortest blog post I have seen on this issue and with the most devastating point being made:
DNA testing provides answers — BUT, are you ready to deal with those answers?

With Who's Your Daddy? One Pillar of Darwinian Psychology I had little hopes but found a true gem.  For me these paragraphs explain why men sign paternity affidavits and do ask for a DNA test in a way that lawyers cannot explain well enough (maybe it is that our brains are too tied to the rules of evidence?).
Men know that they are fathers because their wives say that they are and because they believe their wives.
Fatherhood must involve trust. Until recently it was impossible to verify. It was impossible to say that paternity was an objective fact; it always retained the possibility of being a fiction.
Men just do not want to offend the woman who says they are the father. I add especially when that woman has just delivered a baby.  I have been wanting to say that for a long time.  Thanks to Had Enough Therapy? blog for giving me a basis to do so.

After reading the New York Times article, I watched the move And There Will be Blood.  I was struck by how the movie dealt with a very twisty relationship between a father and a son that echoed the sentiments of the article.  It also seemed to have something to say about the differences between blood kin and those that call themselves brothers.  Then, too, maybe it was an overripe imagination on my part.

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