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Making Men Pay, No Matter What
Not the father? Tough titty. Except in rare cases, you're gonna pay child support; in some cases, even if you never had sex with the woman. Tresa Baldas writes in The National Law Journal about a tiny ray of hope -- a case recently won in Michigan -- in the paternity fraud arena.

DNA evidence may show a man is not the father, but the courts are still forcing him to pay child support anyway.

"This is the new underdog," said Michigan family law attorney Michele Kelly, who represents mostly men tangled in paternity disputes. "I was a staunch feminist. I marched with Gloria Steinem. But the new victims in America are working men. All they are is a mule train."

Most recently, Kelly secured a victory for a Michigan man who had paid an estimated $80,000 in child support over 15 years to his ex-wife, despite DNA evidence that proved he wasn't the father of their first son. On March 23, after a bitter court battle, the case settled with the ex-wife agreeing to have all child support canceled. Richardson v. Luria, No. 91-7019-DM (Bay Co., Mich., Cir. Ct.).

Here's my Advice Goddess column on the topic. An excerpt:

In no other arena is a swindler rewarded with a court-ordered monthly cash settlement paid to them by the person they bilked. While you don't mention being forced at gunpoint to have sex without a condom, potentially getting socked with two decades of hefty fines for being a careless idiot seems a bit like being sentenced to 100 years hard labor for stealing a muffin. The law is not on men's side. Matt Welch reported in Reason magazine (2/04) that welfare reform legislation forces some men to pay child support for kids who aren't theirs -- sometimes, kids of women they've never even met -- unless they protest, in writing, within 30 days, that they're victims of a daddy-scam.

While the law allows women to turn casual sex into cash flow sex, Penelope Leach, in her book Children First, poses an essential question: "Why is it socially reprehensible for a man to leave a baby fatherless, but courageous, even admirable, for a woman to have a baby whom she knows will be so?" A child shouldn't have to survive on peanut butter sandwiches sans peanut butter because he was conceived by two selfish, irresponsible jerks. Still, there's a lot more to being a father than forking over sperm and child support, yet the law, as written, encourages unscrupulous women to lure sex-dumbed men into checkbook daddyhood.

This isn't 1522. If a woman really doesn't want a kid, she can take advantage of modern advances in birth control like Depo-Provera or the IUD, combine them with backup methods (as recommended by her doctor), add an ovulation detection kit, plus insist that doofuses like you latex up. Since it's the woman who gets a belly full of baby, maybe a woman who has casual sex and is unprepared, emotionally, financially, and logistically, to raise a child on her own, should be prepared to avail herself of the unpleasant alternatives. It's one thing if two partners in a relationship agree to make moppets, but should a guy really get hit up for daddy fees when he's, say, one of two drunk strangers who has sex after meeting in a bar? Yes, he is biologically responsible. But, is it really "in the child's best interest" to be the product of a broken home before there's even a home to break up?

Nat. Law Journal link via Overlawyered

Posted by aalkon at May 10, 2006 12:56 PM

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I have to wonder about the ratio of the number of men who have been forced to pay child support for non-progency to the number of men who have skipped out on child support for established progeny.

While I agree that no one should be forced to financially support a child that isn't theirs, men have some conrol: condoms and vasectomies. Just sayin'. (and sayin' as a woman who was always hyper-careful when it came to BC)

Posted by: deja pseu at May 10, 2006 6:37 PM

I am a 21 year old woman. After careful consideration, I made the decision that I do not want children. Not now. Not ever. I have ended committed relationships over this one point.
I believe that having a child on your own is one of the most reprehensible things a person can do. No one sits down and asks the child "would you like to be born to someone who can't afford you, never have a father, and live a more deprived life because your mother couldn't operate a condom?" No. That choice is made selfishly by the mother. I also have no sympathy to women who want kids and "oops" someone to have them. That's disgusting.

Posted by: amh18057 at May 11, 2006 5:41 AM

To my mind, no male should be able to walk away from his obligation to support and if necessary raise, any child he has fathered - not and continue to call himself a man. It does not matter if one or both were drunk. It does not matter if the mother is a slut, a saint, or a coldly calculating money hungry bitch. When we males drop our pants, we are willingly and willfully taking on a potential responsibility. Like gambling, it is a risk/reward thing. The only difference is that it is the District Attorney and the Family Courts that are there to enforce the man to pay up, and not some guy with a crooked nose.

One last thought: If in the middle of a messy divorce one were to learn that one or more of the children were not "flesh of your flesh, blood of your blood," I can understand the hurt and the anger that individual would feel. Certainly any love he once might have had for the mother would be long gone. Perhaps in that situation, Amy is correct and there should be no legal obligation to keep up support or contact; but I have to wonder, how any caring person could walk away from an innocent child that loves them, without tearing their own heart in two?

Posted by: Dave at May 11, 2006 11:58 AM

These are the unexamined consequences of the laws that were passed over the last 40 years that were hailed as progressive. What should we do? Every choice has severe reprecussions beyond the issues of individual fairness. Do we want a society that eliminates Men from both the responsibilities of fatherhood and the ability to have a choice in the matter. If it is strictly a matter for the Woman to decide, her individual choice, then naturally what follows is society where Men become sperm donors rather then fathers who want to participate in the often difficult, but on the whole positive benifits of the traditional family structure. I am not advocating the return of a Paternal dominence where the female is a slave. And I don't have specific answers to the thorny problems that have sprung up. But we have to somehow get to a system where both sexes have rights and responsibilities regarding the upbringing of children, if we only have one or the other the system will breakdown and the government is a lousy substitute for two parents. The quickest way to destroy a society is the breakdown and sexual seperation of parental rights and responsibilities. If men become strictly sperm and paycheck providers we are in for a social dissaster that will make Katrina look like a picnic.

Posted by: kevin peters at May 11, 2006 12:20 PM

But amh18057, what if you change your mind? They're different when they're your own, etc. etc. JUST KIDDING! Back in the day, there was a really cool childfree website where the people came up with a game called "Breeder Bingo" listing those kinds of idiotic comments. I've been childfree since I discovered pregnancy was a choice, maybe at around age 10 or 11. After hassling with the Pill for 17 years, I got my tubes tied a couple of years ago. Yay! Stick by your guns - I can at least say for myself (at the age of 36) that I have NO regrets whatsoever.

But regarding your post, how do you feel about very rich women who decide to have children on their own? I'm not talking about oopsing - that is reprehensible under any circumstances. I'm talking about a very wealthy woman who decides she wants a kid and isn't going to wait around trying to find a decent man. Say she adopts or goes to a sperm bank or whatever. Do you think children in these circumstances are getting a raw deal, or is it the poverty that USUALLY accompanies single moms that disadvantages them?

Posted by: Pirate Jo at May 11, 2006 3:11 PM

Pirate Jo:not amh, but similar thoughts.

I'm talking about a very wealthy woman who decides she wants a kid and isn't going to wait around trying to find a decent man. Say she adopts or goes to a sperm bank or whatever. Do you think children in these circumstances are getting a raw deal, or is it the poverty that USUALLY accompanies single moms that disadvantages them?

I'm a single woman who did the career thing first and am fortunate enough that I could have financially afforded to be a single mom. I thought hard about it, had a 'donor' lined up.

My background also is that I grew up in a single parent household (father died when I was young). I had a very loving family and extended family, but I KNOW it altered my world view and that I missed out on things because daddy wasn't there. I could blather on about the probable psychogical, psychosocial reasons, but suffice it to say I think that fathers are a very important part of raising well-rounded, happy adults that don't carry lots of baggage along with them.

I will grant there are exceptions, but I think we make lots of excuses because we don't want to face the hard reality that two parent households are better for kids than single parent households in the vast majority of cases.

Posted by: anne at May 11, 2006 10:39 PM

> how do you feel about very rich women who
> decide to have children on their own?

God Bless you for asking.

> Do you think children in these circumstances
> are getting a raw deal, or is it the poverty that
> USUALLY accompanies single moms that
> disadvantages them?

I'm not sure it matters. Children deliberately brought into fatherless families are going to be dealing with a severe egomaniac as head of household.

Posted by: Crid at May 14, 2006 8:31 PM

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