It is an ancient principle that it is in the best interest of a child to have paternity established and left undisturbed by the courts. Insofar as practical that principle should be obeyed. But that principle was formed on the basis that children were almost always born within a marriage, and that the couple would raise the child together. Obviously that is no longer true but in support of that principle Colorado law at present makes it impossible for a divorced man, or an unmarried man against whom a paternity judgement has been entered to remove the obligation for child support despite DNA evidence establishing he is not the father of the child.
Virtually since incorporation in 2001 the Equal Justice Foundation has been fighting paternity fraud and the courts and child support enforcement agents who support such slavery. We thought that this year might finally see a minor victory by passage of a bill (SB08-183, click here for latest copy) requiring judges to modify or set aside child support obligations when a woman’s adultery or infidelity was clearly established by DNA evidence, or when a man was able to prove the child support enforcement agents had named the wrong individual as the father of a child.
Note, however, that the burden of proof still rests on the man and he is considered guilty, and must pay unless and until he proves his innocence. A trifling detail in today’s family courts, I know, but one that should have some meaning if due process were valid.
With the extensive help of Colorado state senator Shawn Mitchell, who sponsored the bill, SB08-183 was passed through the Senate with only a minor modification that requires payment of a $70 filing fee (page 7, lines 1-12) to balance the cost of the measure.
In the Colorado House the bill was ably sponsored by Rep. Nancy Todd, and with her help and guidance SB08-183 was passed by the House judiciary committee on April 29, 2008.
Unfortunately, (p. 2, line 24-26, & p. 3, line 1-3) the bill was amended to put a time limit of two years to file for a modification of the child support order, which is quite unrealistic as many men don’t find out about the child support order for several years after it is entered, or don’t begin to question the paternity of a child until many years after the divorce.
However, on a positive note the amendments did allow a judge to vacate arrearages (p. 2, line 18-23) although restitution for the fraud is, realistically, not possible.
But in the early hours of May 1st, Representative Bob Gardner, an attorney whose district flanks Fort Carson in Colorado Springs and whose competence is no greater than 99 out of 100 others of his ilk, introduced an amendment during floor debate in the Colorado House that the man could only be freed from his slavery if the judge determines “…it is just and proper under the circumstances and in the best interest of the child.” (p. 2, line 11-13 & p. 4, line 25-27)
One doesn’t have to be deeply involved in the divorce or child support industry to realize Gardner’s amendment guts the bill as it is obviously in “the best interest of the child” for a judge to continue enslaving a man to pay.
The common theme of supporters of paternity fraud is that it is “in the best interests of the child” to enslave a man, any man, to pay a woman child support despite the fact that the man has no biological connection to the child. Their “logic” rests on the absurd idea that a slave will better maintain a “father/child” relationship with a child who has been proven to be the result of his wife’s adultery if he is forced to pay child support to the adulteress. And even if he has no idea, or ever had a relationship with the woman he is indentured to support, he should still be enslaved.
Mr. Gardner, in whose district large numbers of soldiers with two and three, or more tours in Iraq and Afghanistan live, obviously thinks it is fine to support slavery to support the adultery of wives who couldn’t keep their knees together while their husbands were deployed, or girlfriends who found it convenient to blame a trooper in Iraq for her infidelity and inconvenient pregnancy while he was serving his country.
Colorado Rep. Larry Liston was recently criticized for publicly referring to such women as “sluts,” but what else is one to call them? Conversely, Rep. Gardner wants to enslave men to support these women’s slatternly behavior. And anyone at all familiar with cases of paternity fraud is quite aware that the money doesn’t really go to support the child(ren). Instead, all too commonly it goes to support mom’s alcoholism or drug habit, or her new boyfriend’s habits, the hell with the kids whom she has probably farmed out to grandma anyway.
Mr. Gardner has made reference to the ancient tradition that the father of a child is the man the mother was married to when the child was born. At the same time he ignores the ancient law that made adultery a capitol offense, which it still is in many societies. Instead he now condones a financial reward for such trollops and slavery for men who may, or may not have consorted with them.
Then there are the cases where the child doesn’t exist, the man had a vasectomy or was otherwise sterile, was in prison, was at sea or in a war zone, doesn’t even know who the woman is, the child has died or been killed, or the child is in foster care or with grandparents, but Colorado, and most other states still require “child support” to be paid despite genetic and other proof the man is not, and cannot be the father of the child if he or she even exists. Ah, but Mr. Gardner, Esq., would have us believe a judge should be allowed to continue enslaving such men if it is “in the best interests of the child.”
Perhaps whatever passed for a law school that Mr. Gardner attended didn’t require reading the Constitution of the United States of America. Obviously he is unfamiliar with Seciton 1 of the Thirteenth Amendment thereto, which reads:
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Seems clear enough to me. Now what is required is to remove Gardner’s amendment and the time limit so that slaves have recourse to end their involuntary servitude in the face of clear evidence of their innocence. Even better would be to require courts to demand a paternity test in each and every case where child support is requested, i.e., assume a man is innocent of the obligation until the facts establish he is responsible. That would leave paternity undisturbed and unquestioned unless, and until a woman sought financial reward from a man. Likely that would even encourage marriage and discourage divorce.
And it is never in the best interest of a child to encourage slavery as he may then grow up to be a slave.
Charles E. Corry, is President of the Equal Justice Foundation http://www.ejfi.org/.