A Little More on Paternity and Child Support

I just found the following on Danny’s blog:

Pedro Soto was paying support (and spending time with) for his son Aaron with no thought that the they were not biologically linked. It turned out that Aaron was actually biologically linked to Francisco Serrano, the man that the mother of the child, Maricela Guerrero, was partnered with. Now in a case like this one would think that if Pedro is not the biological father it would make sense to terminate the order for him to continue paying child support right? Wrong.

“[T]he Department concedes that Francisco Serrano, not Petitioner [Pedro Soto], is the real father of Aaron Soto, but insists that due to the passage of time the injustice of Petitioner paying child support for a child that is living with, and being supported by his real father, should be extended at least another five years until Aaron reaches eighteen and finishes high school.”

Such decisions not only undermine one’s faith in the capacity of the justice system to make fair rulings in child support cases, it also further erodes the value and prestige of fatherhood. I don’t think anybody will disagree that fatherhood is not valued as highly as motherhood in our society. Court rulings like this one perpetuate the notion that the father doesn’t matter and any male passerby can fulfill his role. As long as he is capable of paying money, of course. It is highly hypocritical to make or support such rulings and then act surprised that fathers abandon their children easily or don’t participate actively in their care.

I agree with most of what Danny has to say about the case in his post, except the following:

Why should the passage of time even matter in a situation where the wrong man is being held responsible for payments and the right man is actively in the child’s life (meaning that the “but its about making sure the child gets the support they need” excuse does not fly)? And even if that right man is not in the child’s life why not seek him out instead of sticking with the safe bet and holding up a man who is not the one that should be held responsible?

It should not matter in the least whether the biological parent can be located or is present in the child’s life. What matters is that a father is just as valuable and important for a child as a mother. A child is genetically 50% his or her mother and 50% his or her father. We can’t just catch some random schmuck, assign him to be the kid’s father by a court order, and expect fatherhood to retain even a shred of its meaning.

I think that most of my readers know that children’s rights are a very important topic for me. I have received a lot of criticism for my post about whether rape victims should pay child support because I believe that the interests and rights of children should always supersede those of adults. This is why I find this court ruling abhorrent. Its blatant disregard for the value of fatherhood contributes to the image of fathers as being dispensable and interchangeable. This will end up hurting a great number of children.

26 thoughts on “A Little More on Paternity and Child Support

  1. It should not matter in the least whether the biological parent can be located or is present in the child’s life.
    But unfortunately it does. I’m all for holding biological fathers responsible for the children they helped create however here is a very clear case in which not only was he not the biological father but the biological father was known and was already active in the child’s life. And from what it appears the biological father was ready, willing, and able to provide support for the child.

    So with those conditions met (which if I understand correct are important to you and your position on child care) why is it that a man that was proven to not be the biological father staring down the barrel of not only not having the injustice stopped but actually having it extended until the child reached adulthood?

    If its about making sure the child is taken care of then why is that innocent men are being help up for child support in cases in which the child is being taken care of by the biological father?

    And this is a very stark contrast to cases in which a given man is the biological father but his parental rights are ripped out from under him by a mother that has taken it upon herself to decide that he should not being in his child’s life. So people are complaining that men aren’t “stepping up” when it comes to child care while at the same time ignoring men who are pushed out their children’s lives and pulled into them in ways that they shouldn’t be pulled in. Such people need to learn that when it comes to men and child care they cannot have it both ways.

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    1. I agree with you completely. The general attitude towards fatherhood is egregiously hypocritical. It is obvious to me that all lamentations as to how men are not as involved in their children’s lives as women are sound completely meaningless given that men are so often removed from exercising any control over how they exercise their parenthood.

      This case is simply shocking to me in its naked hypocrisy and disregard for all reason. I’m glad I read about it on your blog because I had no idea that this was even possible.
      Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

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  2. Personally I believe genetics have little or nothing to do with being a parent. It seems the fact of the matter was that the “Father or Dad” of that child was the one rearing him. The reality is that the sperm donor only held a genetic link to the child, nothing more.

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    1. Sperm donors are anonymous, which is why there is never any expectation of child support.

      I have a very different vision of the role of biological parents in one’s life. This is probably a discussion for a different thread, however. What matters in this particular case is that the child in question is as related to the man who is ordered to pay his child support as you or I. And it’s unconscionable that anybody should pay child support to children who are not one’s own. Unless, of course, the child was legally adopted by the adult in question.

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    2. I’ve got a baby I want to force you to adopt. Sure, you may not have had anything to do with the creation of this baby, but why should that matter?

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    3. titfortat:
      Personally I believe genetics have little or nothing to do with being a parent. It seems the fact of the matter was that the “Father or Dad” of that child was the one rearing him. The reality is that the sperm donor only held a genetic link to the child, nothing more.
      I agree that genetics should have nothing to do with being a parent.

      With that in mind though why does paternity fraud happen in the first place then? Why bother lying to the “father” about the child being a biological match if all that matters is how he contributes to raising the child?

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      1. Probably the logic is, “Well, this is such a small, insignificant part of reality, so why should I inconvenience myself by even mentioning it?”

        My question always is how would a woman who thinks this way feel if she discovered that her newborn was swapped with somebody else’s at the maternity ward and she’s been raising somebody else’s kid. Just wondering.

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  3. If you have brought up a kid for a while you might be happy to pay child support to ensure the kid had what they needed.

    Being tricked into it though should not be a possibility. I note some womens advocates are against mandatory DNA tests at birth. Now they are so cheap I don’t see why there is a logical argument against it.

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    1. Why just outside of marriage? I shared a story a while ago of a woman who passed off as her husband’s kid the child she had with the husband’s boss. That was extremely traumatic for everybody involved.

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      1. I just figured that non-marriage paternity would be a no brainer and a good place to start. In some places a chump only has a 30 day window to refute paternity and that is unfair. If the summons goes to the wrong address; “too bad”.

        False paternity in marriage can wreck the family. Some think the ‘dad’ should be kept in the dark for the childs’ sake lest a divorce impoverish them all.

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        1. “Some think the ‘dad’ should be kept in the dark for the childs’ sake lest a divorce impoverish them all.”

          -I disagree with this position. It is in the best interests of any child to know their real history, their roots, their genetic inheritance, possible diseases they might have inherited, etc. Anybody who conceals the truth about one’s paternity from a person is NOT acting in their best interests.

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  4. Clarissa:
    My question always is how would a woman who thinks this way feel if she discovered that her newborn was swapped with somebody else’s at the maternity ward and she’s been raising somebody else’s kid. Just wondering.
    Simple they sue. And since you mention that think about this:

    1. When’s the last time you heard someone say that those mothers shouldn’t be mad since its not the DNA but the parenting that matters?

    2. In a lot of cases when it turns out a given dad was deceived the chances of him getting any sort of compensation range from about slim to none. Basically saying its okay to hold a hospital responsible for what more than likely was a genuine accident but it wrong to hold a woman responsible for intentional deception?

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    1. This is uncanny. I was just reading an article about infants who were exchanged at birth by careless medical personnel and the parents did, indeed, sue.

      I believe that a man should absolutely be entitled to suing and should get compensated for emotional trauma, too. There is genuine pain and suffering in such cases. At least in the cases where intentional deception can be demonstrated in court, there should be compensation. It shocks me to see how many people see this topic as funny (I don’t mean you, of course) when so many real-life tragedies, both for the fathers and the children, occur as a result.

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  5. Fatherhood may be even more important (to the child) than motherhood is. I know from personal experience that gaining approval from my father was more important to me than was maternal approval. I think this may be universal. Anything the government can do to increase the importance of the father-child relationship in the eyes of ALL people, they SHOULD do it immediately. Unfortunately, the US government has been undermining the family every chance it has had since the 1950’s. The family seems to be in BIG trouble in this nation.

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    1. “Unfortunately, the US government has been undermining the family every chance it has had since the 1950′s.”

      -Actually, I think that families in this country only got a chance to exist and lead happy lives after the horrible decade of the 1950s ended. Even as little as 20 years ago, I would have been ridiculed for saying what I say today about the importance of the bond between the father and the child. Today, most people are receptive to this. fathers are not seen any more as distant beings whose only role in the child’s life is to make money and bark our orders. Fathers today don’t have to be ashamed of having a nurturing, profound, tender relationships with their children. I remember when I was a kid, everybody was horrified that my father would go traveling with his two daughters. ‘Why do you want to take them with you? They’ll spoil all your fun,” his friends would say. It was unconscionable for people 30 years ago that a man genuinely enjoyed his small children’s company. Nowadays, it happens all the time.

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    2. “Unfortunately, the US government has been undermining the family every chance it has had since the 1950′s.”

      People really need to stop getting their ideas about the ’50s from ’50s television.

      “The family seems to be in BIG trouble in this nation.”

      Yep, women earning their own paychecks and gay people raising kids is tearing the country apart. (P.S. you do know that there are all kinds of ways a family group can be structured and the “nuclear family” that many Americans think of as “typical” is a very recent phenomenon only made possible on a large scale by the increased working class wage of industrial capitalism and which does not exist in many parts of the world, right?)

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      1. To contribute: (good) dads are great, and so are moms, but nobody, male or female, should be held responsible for the care of children that aren’t theirs when the kids already have adequate caregivers. This ruling is bullshit and were I the mother here I’d refuse to take the not-dad’s money whatever the court said, since I have some damn pride and sense of fairness.

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  6. But this is how the justice system works. Once something is set up, and a certain amount of time has gone by, that’s it. Exculpatory evidence or proof of someone else’s guilt won’t even get you out of the death penalty!!! It is true!!!

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    1. However (and I explain this is a small note in my post) unlike other crimes like rape and murder where reasonable doubt plays a role (and the deterioration of evidence and fading of memories) the results of a genetic test are fact that can never fade, deteriorate, or be altered. In cases like paternity I think time limits are a lazy cop out that allows the state to wiggle its way out of taking responsibility for its own fuck ups.

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  7. No, I’m talking about where there’s complete doubt. Exculpatory evidence, recognized as such. I work in this area and I am not talking off the cuff.

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  8. I agree completely,-Not only is it unjust for a man to pay CS 2 a kid that’s not his,The actual father is denied the role as father & the child loses their true father.If you ask me there should be mandatory paternity testing done at birth for EVERY child. -No CS 4 kids that aren’t yours.

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