Thursday, October 06, 2005

Wizbang on paternity

In Who's your Daddy?, Wizbang points out that many men who have been paying child support are now finding out that they are not the father. This creates a moral problem.
Many of those men who accepted a woman's word and paid child support for years have had niggling suspicions that they were not truly the child's father, and in quite a few cases have gone to labs to confirm or deny those suspicions. And that leaves us to the obvious question: suppose a man has been paying court-mandated child support for years, then finds out another man is the father. What should be done?

It's a hell of a tough question. The justice side of me says he ought to be released from further payments, and the mother should repay him for the child support she had received. The law-and-order side of me wants the woman charged with fraud. The compassionate side of me worries how this will affect the child, as they suddenly lose the man they thought of as their father and their support.

I would add here that several states have laws that say that if the couple was married at the time, the man is responsible for support irrespective of the child's lineage. I would also offer a fourth, and my personal favorite, solution to the problem. The state should force the mother to give them the list of possible candidates. Once the actual father is found, he is responsible to pick up the ongoing tab. The mother who lied is responsible to pay back half of all illegitimate payments. If the real father has means he is responsible for the other half.

In any case, it is immoral to continue to force the falsely accused father to pay. In places where that is the law, the law should be changed. We don't want to hurt the kids but we have to make individuals responsible for their actions, including lying to a man about whether a baby is his.


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