Parenthood means different things to different people. That meaning often depends on the circumstance from which a person becomes a parent. An out-of-state case involves a man who was told he became a father after a quick fling. When he couldn’t live up to the legal requirements of being a parent — paying child support — he was sent to jail.
Failing to live up to being a parent in his situation earned him the ugly label of “deadbeat dad” and jail time. Family law statutes in his state changed, however, and allowed the supposed father to regain his reputation and get out of jail.
The man has a wife and children outside of his other once supposed family, and his wife helped get her husband freed. She researched a new Texas law, and her husband took a DNA test to verify whether he was the father of the child to whom he owed support. The test proved there was no possibility he was the father. He was in jail for failing to pay child support to a child who was never his.
The paternity test got him out of jail but did not automatically save him from having to pay the back child support he owed. In a rare turn of events, the mother of the child at the center of the dispute relinquished her right to the $50,000 she could have continued to demand from the man.
Some in the state believe that the law needs to be amended to include that fathers who prove with a test that they are not fathers should be free from having to pay back support. Why should they be required to pay thousands in support to a family that is not theirs, especially when these men often have families of their own already depending on their support?
A paternity test does not have to court-ordered and taken only in times of desperation. If someone is at all uncertain that he is the biological father of a child, he can request a test as early as he wants. Doing so could save him from family laws that would require him to pay support and potentially put him in jail.
Source: CBS DFW, “Man Jailed For Child Support For Baby That Wasn’t His,” April 12, 2012