Unusual fathers’ rights case makes national headlines

When it comes to child support enforcement, the players often fall along stereotypical lines. You have the beleaguered single mother, fighting the get the courts to force the deadbeat father to pay for the needs of his children. The story has become so ingrained in our collective belief about child support that any exception to this scenario garners media attention in Massachusetts and elsewhere. One recent case offers an unusual take on fathers’ rights, and has many debating the current state of child support law.

A man recently faced a judge to defend against the charge of having unpaid child support. However, the man offered DNA test results that proved him not to be the father of the child in question. However, he still emerged from the courtroom owing child support to a woman who had deceived him for the past 13 years.

At the time of the child’s birth, the man’s girlfriend claimed that he was the child’s father. Although he had doubts at the time, he signed the baby’s birth certificate. As a result, a judge is holding him to that promise, and has ordered that he pay toward the $23,000 in back support owed. However, he will be allowed to do so at a rate of $1 per month, interest free. At that rate, he will be able to fulfill his obligation in as little as 1,917 years.

As this fathers’ rights case demonstrates, family court judges hear a wide range of cases, not all of which conform to social norms. Judges in Massachusetts have to follow state law, but they have a great deal of latitude in how they apply those laws. In this case, the judge seems to have taken a sympathetic approach, and rendered a judgment that makes a statement about the unfair nature of a law that would force an individual to pay child support for a child that is unequivocally not theirs.

Source: nbc12.com, “Judge orders $1 a month in child support for the next 1000+ years,” Yvette Yeon, Feb. 27, 2013

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