States Should Begin Jailing Mothers Who Wrongfully Identify Men in Paternity Actions | InjuryBoard Des Moines

In Child Custody, Child Support, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation on July 27, 2009 at 3:58 pm
Steve Lombardi
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Posted by Steve LombardiJuly 27, 2009 10:45 AM

It should be called the Hatley Amendment, in honor of Frank Hatley, a 50-year-old man who’s been in jail since June 2008 for not paying child support even though two separate DNA tests in the last nine years prove he’s not the father. The courts often times by technical defaults find a man is the father, even though he isn’t the father, order him to pay child support, and when he doesn’t he goes to jail for contempt of court. Even if wrong, you can’t ignore a court’s orders. You can appeal them but you can’t ignore them. If you do you go to the slammer.

For those mothers who wrongfully identify a man as the father father’s rights groups would love to see the accusing mother jailed.

Well, that’s not the law, but one wonders if it should be the law. You mother’s can calm down you’re not going to jail, but many believe you should for wrongfully accusing men you sleep with of being the father of a child born out of wedlock. Poor Frank Hatley sitting in jail all this time for contempt of court for not paying court ordered child support, based on a finding of fact that is clearly incorrect.

Most of you will wonder how this can be happening in America. Let me try to explain. State policy concerning entry of child support orders is broadly stated as follows:

1. That a parent should support their children.

2. That the child is the most important concern.

3. That parent-child relationship, including support orders should be established as close to the births date as possible.

That’s the state policy; when a single mother gives birth and files for state aid for the child the state steps in requiring her to identify the possible fathers. Moral values being what they are many don’t know who the sperm donor could be so they either name them all or pick and choose from the possibilities. Some were inebriated and have no clue who they slept with on any given night so those men are allowed a get out of jail card. The state then notifies the likely suspect or suspects, files for a court hearing on paternity and the Court decides on paternity, in many cases based on incomplete evidence. In some of those cases, probably where only one man has been identified as the most likely suspecting sperm donor, for many reasons doesn’t respond to the Petition. In some cases the service was on a relative where the father was thought to live. That’s called substitute service. If the father fails to respond, oops sorry Uncle Frank I forgot to give you those papers, the Court enters a default judgment finding this man is the man who gets the child support lottery ticket! The Court then enters Judgment and sends Frank the winner’s letter. “Congratulations Frank, You’ve won the right to pay child support for the next 18 to 22 years! Think of it like you would a lotto jackpot win; except in reverse. Instead of receiving a monthly check you get to send us one!”

Soon Uncle Frank gets news that he’s won and he’s probably mad, gets a lawyer and they do the DNA tests which show that Uncle Frank really isn’t Father Frank. He says this isn’t fair and the Court says read the rules. The mother sings,

“One, two, three and it’s you and me.

Send your check you’re up on deck!”

Meanwhile the Franks out there say no way for me to pay. The Franks don’t act like fathers and the kids get caught up in a childhood of legal wrangling and fighting that further destroys the fabric of a pleasant childhood. So is the state policy really making any sense? It doesn’t seem to be.

So I ask the question what does make sense. Certainly mothers can see the unfairness of making a man pay child support for a child that is someone else’s. The States shouldn’t have to pay for ADC (Aid to Dependent Children and Title XIX medical benefits) when there is a father out there that can be identified. But is it right for the States to take money from just anyone that has slept or she says slept with her just because they failed to defend themselves? Even if the man did defend, if a DNA test later shows the man isn’t the sperm donor is it right for the States to continue to require him to pay child support on a child that isn’t his? It doesn’t seem to be.

You might wonder how this miscarriage of justice can be corrected. Simply put if all support orders required a DNA test it would go a long way to avoiding injustices like the one befalling Frank Hatley. But, who is going to pay for the DNA tests when many of those having sex and babies can barely afford to pay the filing fee to file the case? Are the tax payers going to be the one’s to do it? We could enter an order requiring the father’s to pay. That way if we later find them they could be ordered to reimburse the State.

As a lawyer I find it an interesting legal question, whether the entry of a child support order is state action requiring constitutional safeguards that would also require a DNA test before a child support order could be entered when the alleged putative father is in default; not defending himself.

In conclusion, my title is misleading, you mother’s aren’t going to jail but I did need to get your attention. You need to do everything you can to make sure these men defend and that you’re identifying all the likely suspects. The wrong man is the wrong parent for the child’s court ordered father. Childhood isn’t in anyway enhanced by the Court finding the Frank Hatley’s of the world the putative fathers – when in fact they are not.

And Frank Hatley has a little different fact scenario, based on his discussions with the mother it’s reported that he believed he was the father and had agreed to reimburse the State of Georgia.

“Hatley had a relationship with Essie Lee Morrison, who had a baby in 1987 and told Hatley the child was his, according to court records. The couple never married and split up shortly afterward.

In 1989, Morrison applied for public assistance through the state Department of Human Resources. Hatley agreed to reimburse the state because he believed the boy was his.”

If you’ve slept with other men then you need to make a complete disclosure to the man you believe is the father. A complete disclosure is necessary for the man to agree he is the father. In those instances the man should have the option to consider DNA testing before agreeing to consent to paternity.

As for Frank Hatley seeking compensation or his friends saying he should be compensated, I don’t agree. He agreed to reimburse the State of Georgia. Men have to be smart enough to challenge a woman with a DNA test before consenting to paternity.

Fair is fair and it appears that Frank Hatley didn’t have all the necessary information before agreeing to reimburse the State of Georgia. If he had and had agreed to pay I would have no sympathy for him today.

If you want to see how contentious the issue of child paternity can get, watch this video where it’s alleged child support was ordered to be paid on a child that never existed. I’ll blog on this and report more on it later.

States Should Begin Jailing Mothers Who Wrongfully Identify Men in Paternity Actions | InjuryBoard Des Moines.

  1. Actually, I don’t think it’s a matter of men having to be smarter than women. As the article states, most of these people don’t have the money to file the paperwork in court, let alone hire an attorney. Except that a woman with a child doesn’t need money, only a child and the a claim of need and the state will eagerly provide for the mother all she needs to go to court, represented, and secure a child support order, especially if she’s receiving assistance from the state. That’s where Federal Title IV-D of the Social Security act comes to the rescue and the state makes its money off the carnage that we call family court. There is no level playing field in family court between the genders no matter how smart a man is.

    There is also no constitution in the family court either. No due process and men going to jail for their inability to pay (read, contempt of court) the court ordered child support. If he’s lost his job, it is because he’s a deadbeat intentionally trying to buck the system. If he’s had to take a job earning less than his last job, again he is purposely trying to get away with not paying because he has intentionally under-employed himself. Even if the court cuts him some slack on the under-employed point, they generally still will not even entertain a modification to child support and tell him to come back in six months to see if he has gotten back to his ‘regular’ earning rate. If a man suffers an injury requiring surgery and rehabilitation that is not just cause for a modification to child support even though his disability pay is a third or a quarter of his working pay. If he hasn’t been able to keep up with his child support payments and doesn’t have access to some resource or benefactor, such as parents of his own willing to mortgage their retirement home for instance, he will undoubtedly find himself with arrearages, which only then ‘proves’ he is indeed a deadbeat and off to jail he goes.

    How many fathers in intact families have lost jobs, especially in our current economy, and found new jobs earning less so he and his family are tightening their belts to weather the storm and how many fathers in non-intact families have had the same fate only to find themselves jailed? With the nation’s high divorce rate and all those never marrying to begin with, I’d have to guess the later is more prevalent.

    America… used to be able to love it, now we have to fear it. First it was the banking industry and the auto makers and now health care is next. Instead of being a country of independent citizens with a government that serves, we’re all going to be dependent citizens that serve the government. Unless of course you’re one of the small percentage of people whose wealth shields them from such things.

  2. But, who is going to pay for the DNA tests when many of those having sex and babies can barely afford to pay the filing fee to file the case? Are the tax payers going to be the one’s to do it? We could enter an order requiring the father’s to pay. That way if we later find them they could be ordered to reimburse the State.

    Why should a supposed father be made to pay, if he’s been falsely accused, of fathering a child and DNA exonerates him? If a woman’s indiscretions find her in a position to have to name more than one potential father then she should have to pay for all DNA testing that does not produce the biological father. If she has no way of even knowing who the biological father is then she has to pay the consequences. The idea that she can’t afford to even file the court papers is not an argument unless of course the father is allowed the same get-out-of-paying ticket because he simply doesn’t have the money.

    I agree that once the biological father has be identified by DNA testing then the cost for his DNA testing, and his alone, should be split between mother and father. She should shoulder the financial burden of all the other false starts. I bet if women were held accountable for the financial (and other) burdens they are causing the falsely accused men and the tax-payers, she’d come clean rather quickly and be very hesitant to falsely wrangle up the man she thinks has the biggest wallet or whatever her motive is.

    In cases of married women passing off love affair child(ren) on their unsuspecting husbands only to get divorced from him after fatherhood has been by default determined, he ought to be able to have a get-out-of-paying free card even if he desires to maintain a relationship with that child. The woman should be compelled to disclose the real father, and after DNA has confirmed her claim, he can then take financial responsibility for his child.

    Being a layperson, I’m sure I’m missing a lot here but it seems to me that our family courts and the laws that have been written to not find personal responsibility important. It’s ironic that a court meant to help the family structure after breakdown should be more interested in the law and procedure than in the actual rights and responsibilities of the people. Instead, they claim their actions are ‘in the best interest of the child’ to the tune of billions of dollars annually coming into the state coffers.

    Tell me how it is in the best interest of a child to have a man that is not their biological father put on a financial hook for 18 or more years? It’s not. That same man may not want anything to do with that child especially if he knows he’s not the father and in essence is not having any interaction with that child? What happens if that child needs medical history information from the biological father?

    Is it no wonder we see these injustices in every family courthouse in the country because women have no culpability for their actions. Is it because they now have a child(ren) to raise? Wouldn’t that child’s best interests be served to have the biological father given the opportunity to father that child? It’s quite likely he doesn’t even know he has sired a child. Or would it be better that that child is raised by a woman willing to lie for what ever it gains her?

    When a whole class of people is immune to penalty for bad behavior we get what we have in today’s family courts.

  3. […] States Should Begin Jailing Mothers Who Wrongfully Identify Men in … By mkg4583 Men have to be smart enough to challenge a woman with a DNA test before consenting to paternity. Fair is fair and it appears that Frank Hatley didn't have all the necessary information before agreeing to reimburse the State of Georgia. … Parental Rights – https://mkg4583.wordpress.com/ […]

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