Fort Lauderdale, Florida-CNN has concealed the name of a perpetrator of “paternity fraud”. Why?
Francisco Rodriquez is the victim of an ordinary case of paternity fraud. The state of Florida insists that he owes $10,000 in back child support payments for a fifteen year old girl who, according to DNA results, is not his daughter. The state even jailed Rodriquez for failure to pay.
Here is my twist on this otherwise ordinary case: In reporting this story, CNN refused to divulge the name of the mother — a perpetrator of fraud who wrongly named Mr. Rodriquez the father. Why did CNN protect her? She is not a victim. She is a perpetrator.
Mr. Rodriquez is struggling to support a family and cannot afford to pay $305 per month to support the girl. Mrs. Rodriquez says “It’s hard when your daughter needs sneakers and you have to pay $305 or your husband goes to jail. It’s just unfair.”
We call on CNN to reveal the name of the mother, as they would for any other story involving fraud.
Okay, for those of you who do not understand paternity fraud, here’s how it works. The mother wrongly named Mr. Rodriquez the father of the girl in about 2000. The court sent legal papers to an outdated address for Mr. Rodriquez, but no serious effort was made to find him — until, of course, substantial child support arrearages had built up three years later. When he did not appear in court, because he never received the legal notices, the court named him the father and began accumulating child support arrearages. When they found him in 2003, it was already too late for him to contest the finding of the court in 2000 that he was the father., based only on the mother’s say-so. All the DNA tests in the world will not get him off the hook now for paying child support, and even from being jailed.
This story is not just about helping out a fifteen year girl in need. By insisting that Mr. Rodriquez pay child support for this girl, Florida is hurting the three other children Rodriquez supports with his wife.
Of course, this does not stop the apologists for an unjust law. Susan Paikin of the Center for Support of Families in Delaware offers the platitude, “There are no perfect answers.” Actually, there are some simple answers, such as 1) insist that unwed mothers disclose ALL the possible fathers of their children; 2) institute universal DNA testing at the time of birth if the parents are unwed; 3) make a serious attempt to find biological fathers at the time of birth, not just after they owe child support arrearages, at which time our government suddenly becomes very interested in finding them. (Fathers & Families supports a bill in the Massachusetts Legislature that would institute near-universal DNA testing in such cases.)
DNA testing did not exist when these laws were written. Let’s use it for everyone’s benefit. It is best for children if we identify their true biological fathers right from birth, for medical reasons and so they can enjoy the lifelong support of their true fathers.
And finally, why should CNN protect a mother who outright lied, or, at the very least, failed to tell the whole truth about the father of her child?