There are many family law statutes that are either counterproductive or just outright nonsensical. The latest example of comes from the state of Oklahoma where a man has been ordered to pay child support for a child that isn’t his.
KOTV-Tulsa reports on the story of a man identified as “Thomas” who married his high school girlfriend after she became pregnant. Five months into their marriage, she had a baby boy who he believed was his son.
Eventually, their marriage fell apart and Thomas decided to take a paternity test when the boy was three. That’s when he found out that the child wasn’t his.
But the fact that a DNA test showed there was a zero percent chance that Thomas was the boy’s dad did not stop an Oklahoma judge from ordering him to pay $500 a month in child support in addition to $15,000 in back support plus interest.
Oklahoma law says men must question paternity within two years of the child’s birth if they want any opportunity to dispute the support order. Nevermind the fact that Thomas says he had no reason to doubt whether or not he was the father.
The logic here is nothing short of baffling. The mother appears to have blatantly lied to both Thomas and the boy’s actual father. That not only puts Thomas on the hook for thousands of dollars to support a kid that isn’t his, but it also robs the actual dad of his parental rights, which he might desire.
What’s perhaps most tragic is that the child is robbed of any sort of father-son relationship, which can have many negative consequences, and also poses medical risks since there is no way for him to know his true hereditary makeup. Additionally, he could lose out on potential inheritances due to his mother’s dishonesty.
As you can see, this brash irresponsibleness can devastate entire families.
Sadly, this kind of paternity fraud is likely much more common than you might think. Two years ago, a Michigan man was ordered to pay nearly $30,000 of child support for a child a DNA test proved wasn’t his and he was nearly sent to prison for failing to do so. Fortunately, a court recently forgave him of that debt.
Adding to the frustration is the fact that it is extremely difficult to recoup any amount of child support that has already been paid. A critical part of the problem is that the child support system, which has its own set of flaws, is set up in a way that places an overemphasis on collecting payments and doesn’t give much consideration as to who those payments are coming from.
These examples show an obvious need for paternity fraud laws in the U.S. Until those are established, it is incumbent on fathers to be extremely proactive in all matters related to paternity.