What does one say after this?

February 9, 2007

Sixteen months after his divorce, Richard Parker made a devastating discovery. A DNA test revealed that his 3-year-old son had been fathered by someone else.

Mr. Parker immediately filed a lawsuit claiming fraud by his apparently unfaithful ex-wife. He took his case all the way to the Florida Supreme Court.
In the Monitor

Last week, the Florida justices ruled 7-0 against him. They said that Parker must continue to pay $1,200 a month in child support because he had missed the one-year postdivorce deadline for filing his lawsuit. His court-ordered payments would total more than $200,000 over 15 years to support another man’s child.


I’m not going to argue that men always get screwed in divorce and child support settlements, because they don’t. But why are men almost always considered the villain in child support cases?

There is a minority of men, the support dodgers everyone hears about and whose names are always listed in the local papers, that give the majority of men paying child support a bad rep. That majority of divorced men who have children, like me once, feel responsible enough and are quite willing to support their children as long as they know that their children receive the benefit of that support and, especially, that they get to see their children regularly and have input into decisions about their children.

Previous to my divorce, my wife had had an affair, been involved with trafficking in marijuana, gotten herself — and me — arrested. I lost my job and couldn’t get work for a year. She went to prison while I kept our family and home intact, with visits to the prison twice a month — driving our children up to see their mother in prison once a month, and me driving up by myself once a month.

Less than a year after her release from a year and a half incarceration, I filed for divorce. The one demand my wife made was that she keep the children. Circumstances made that better for both parties. I assumed all family debt, paid my ex-wife $20,000 for equity in our home, and paid support on two children, one of whom wasn’t biologically mine but who I had happily adopted a few years after my marriage. I paid medical, paid school fees, paid for new clothes and shoes, and anything else I was asked to pay. And it took me years to dig out from the debt I found myself in but felt responsible for.

Family court judges aren’t interested in fostering a continuing relationship between men and the children of their ex-wives, says Carnell Smith, who runs a DNA-testing company and is founder of Atlanta-based US Citizens Against Paternity Fraud. “The court is only concerned about financial payments.”

Judges generally view the man in a divorce proceeding as nothing more than a “walking checkbook,” he says.

Smith says that instead of targeting deceived ex-husbands, the legal system should investigate the conduct of the wife and hold the mother and biological father responsible for the child they produced.

“In no other area of the law do we punish the victim for the conduct of two other people,” Smith says. “For me it is disingenuous for the Florida justices to turn around and say [to Parker] ‘Well, it is your fault that you didn’t find out sooner.’ “

There definitely needs to be reevaluation of the process of divorce, alimony, and child support, and a show of common sense fairness to all parties – children, women, and men, all. A person’s sex, male or female, shouldn’t always make them a villain.


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