Thursday, May 14, 2009
When the law is an ass
I'm infuriated to read of a Georgia law that can force a man to pay child support - for a child that isn't his! A report by WSBTV.com points out that even if a DNA test proves a man isn't the father, he can still be required by the State to pay up, or else.
A colleague points out that this is a very difficult situation. The children in question have usually been born in the context of a relationship (either marriage or cohabitation) that later ends in a break-up. If the man had fathered the child, he would normally pay child support from that time onward. If he stops paying child support, the mother and child would be left in financial need. That will still happen if he stops paying, on the grounds that the child isn't his. Who's going to take up the burden?
I agree with my colleague that the burden remains to be lifted: but if the woman has cheated on her partner, and the child isn't his, I fail to see why he should bear financial responsibility for it, unless he knew it wasn't his and nevertheless freely elected to assume that responsibility. Fraud is fraud. If he was conned, he should have the right to prove that, and have the burden of responsibility (financial and otherwise) lifted from his shoulders.
As to who should take up the burden, I'm all for forcing the mother to divulge the identity of the true father, proving that by further DNA testing, and charging him for ongoing child maintenance. I'd also force the mother to pay back to her former partner all the money she dishonestly extorted from him under false pretenses. There can be no tolerance for what is, after all, theft, no matter what the motivation.
What say you, readers? Am I being too harsh? Do you have an alternative solution?