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Non-parent held responsible for $30,000 in child support payments

Virtually no one in New York would argue that a parent does not have the responsibility to assist in the financial care of his or her child. In fact, child support laws are in place to ensure that the custodial parent has the financial support needed to provide for the needs of a shared child or children. There are cases, however, in which a child support ruling is made that goes beyond the scope of parents providing for their children. One recent example has led to a great deal of debate on the reach of child support laws and the impact that rulings can have on non-parents.

The case began when a mother needed to name her child’s father in order to receive welfare benefits, and put down the name of a former boyfriend. In such cases, the state issuing the benefits will pursue the other parent for child support payments. In this instance, the man who was named as the father had no idea of that claim, until he was pulled over for a traffic stop and arrested for failure to pay child support.

He tried for years to locate the family and resolve the matter, but was not successful until 2013. At that point, the child’s mother admitted to the false paternity claim, and apologized. A DNA test proved that the man had no biological link to the child, and he asked a court to remedy the matter. The judge in the case, however, stated that the man was responsible for nearly $30,000 in back child support because he was served years ago with paperwork notifying him of the paternity claim.

A process server claims that the man signed for the documents, but upon investigation it was determined that on the date that service was claimed, the man was in prison. In a recent hearing, he asked the court to consider this evidence. The judge stated that because the man had not taken on the burden of clarifying the matter for more than 20 years, he should be held responsible for the child support payments, even though the now-adult child, the mother and a DNA test all claim that he has no biological link to the child. For many in New York, this outcome is viewed as a perversion of the intent of child support law, which is to compel parents to provide for the care of their children.

Source: theroot.com, “Judge Orders Detroit Man to Pay $30,000 in Back Child Support for Child Who Isn’t His”, Stephen A. Crockett Jr., Feb. 19, 2015