If there were ever a guy in a no-win situation, it’s James Rhoades

Kentucky–“For nearly two years, James Rhoades, a university librarian in Tallahassee, has been fighting to establish in law what science and fact already have shown beyond any doubt: He is the biological father of the boy dubbed J.A.R. He’s got DNA tests to prove it, and videos and loads of pictures of him with the boy. In the photos too are the boy’s mother, J.N.R., whom Rhoades met while taking an online graduate course. She was — and still is — married to another man, who was stationed at a Pensacola Air Force base during their affair in 2005. And that’s the problem.

“Last week, in a decision that underscores the tense relationship between science and law, a divided Kentucky Supreme Court told Rhoades that he could not press his paternity claim, no matter what evidence of fatherhood he might have, because J.N.R. was, and remains, a married woman. When it comes to defining fatherhood in the Bluegrass State, where Ricketts and her husband now live, the marital ‘I do’ mean a lot more than DNA…

“The decision has left Rhoades devastated. ‘What I wanted was not just to see my son but to participate in his life. He is my son and I love him.'”–TIME Magazine, 4/29/08

James Rhoades lost a close decision in the Kentucky Supreme Court recently. As we’ve previously discussed, I have mixed emotions about Rhoades and his case. I will say this–if there were ever a guy in a no-win situation, it’s Rhoades. If he gives up and doesn’t pursue a relationship with his son, his son will only know of him as his villain dad who knocked up his mom and then ran out. If he does pursue his case–as he has–he’s vilified as the intruder wrecking a loving family’s peaceful life. It seems to me that Rhoades is probably doing the best he can to do the right thing in the difficult situation he helped create.

On one level, the case is one reason why I sympathize with family law judges and the position they’re put in–people make an absolute mess of their lives and then come to court and expect the courts to solve it.

On another level, while as a general rule I’ve little sympathy for men who have sex with married women, I can sympathize (to a point) with Rhoades. I remember in my 20s I briefly dated a woman who was separated but not divorced from her husband. I wasn’t crazy about being involved with a woman who was still technically married, but she told me a story about what a bastard her husband was, etc., etc., and I, of course, believed it. In being with her it didn’t seem like I was doing anything wrong. I suspect, with some basis, that Rhoades was given the same shtick–my husband doesn’t love me, I’m so sad with him, you’re the one who makes me happy, etc. Then she decided to stick with her husband and Rhoades was left out in the cold, cut off from his son.

The full article is Despite DNA, Dad’s Paternity Denied (TIME, 4/29/08).

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