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.

Rape Victims and Child Support

An interesting post has been placed on ethecofem (which is a great blog that I highly recommend, by the way), and I want to address it here. Blogger Danny writes:

Kris Bucher is being held up for child support. However he says that he was raped by the mother of the child and should therefore not be held responsible for child support.

Alright we’ve seen cases before where under aged boys were held up for support of children they had with adult women. Or even worse sometimes said under aged boy’s parents would be held responsible to pay it (can you imagine being ordered by a court to pay child support to a woman that statutorily raped your son?). In this case though Kris is saying that the age difference is not the issue (and I’m inclined to agree since he was 17 and she was 18 at the time of conception) but rather that he said no to the sexual encounter that conceived the child.

As a quick reference I’ve laid out before that a woman can rape a man, so there is no need to try to question that. The hard part to think about is was he raped (he never pressed charges) and should he be held responsible for supporting a child that was conceived through rape?

I agree that a woman can rape a man, so for me, as for Danny, this is not something that needs to be questioned or discussed*. Now, my opinion on this issue is that such a person is, indeed, responsible for paying child support. I hope, of course, that every rape victim presses charges against the attacker and removes any possibility that a child would end up being raised by a criminal.

Child support, however, is not about either parent or the process of how they ended up being parents. It’s about ensuring that a child – a separate human being who never asked to be brought into this world and who in no way influenced the circumstances of his or her conception – has adequate means of support. It is the role of the justice system to defend the person who is the weakest and who cannot even speak for him or herself, namely, the child. A justice system that prefers to deprive a child from adequate means of existence in order to avoid being unfair towards an adult is no justice system at all.

The fact that a person was created during the commission of a crime in no way reduces that person’s need for food, clothing, medical care, and education. Imagine baby Anna and baby Jessica. Anna is a product of a passionate loving consensual sex act. Jessica is the product of rape (whether by a man or by a woman). Is Jessica going to eat less? Will she be less deserving of visiting a dentist? Should she have fewer toys than Anna? Can anybody reasonably argue that one of these kids should be punished because she has a criminal for a parent?

People seem to think way too often that child support is money that is given to the other parent instead of to the child. This way of thinking comes from their inability to see a child as a separate human being with rights of his or her own. What everybody needs to remember is that the moment a child comes out of a woman’s body and takes his or her first breath, s/he stops being a woman’s body part and becomes a person.

* Reader Christopher Marshall pointed out to me that the man went to the police 2 weeks after the incident and they refused to follow up on it. This is what we need to fight: the prejudice against men that positions them always as the perpetrators of violence and never as victims. Here is the real injustice in this case. A statement that a crime has been committed is dismissed by the authorities.