In a paternity fraud case, an Australian woman has been ordered to repay child support she received from the man she falsely named as the father. Read about it here (The Daily Telegraph, 10/8/11).
That’s the good news, but it’s definitely a “good news/bad news” sort of story. The good news is that, in a rare event, a woman has been ordered by a court to repay child support to a man she falsely identified as her child’s father.
It seems that the woman, who’s not named in the article, had a casual encounter with the man nine years ago. She became pregnant and identified him as the only possible father. He acknowledged paternity so that she could receive certain tax benefits and also paid her a modest sum in child support.
Now it’s nine years later and he and his partner wanted to have a child of their own, but failed. They did so because doctors determined that he’s “physiologically incapable of conceiving a child.” Given that, he asked that genetic testing be done on the previous woman’s child and sure enough, the test revealed that he’s not the dad after all.
That’s always bad news for a man, but the bad news, while not actually getting worse, just keeps coming.
The woman told the Federal Magistrates Court she now recalls having had a one-night sexual encounter with another man. She told the court she suffered depression and stress from an earlier abusive relationship and her memory and thinking were unclear. She did not know the real father’s identity.
Yep, nine years after the fact, while testifying before a federal magistrate, she all of a sudden remembered the other guy. Right. And it just so happens that she’s never known the other fellow’s name.
Put all of that together, and you realize that, nine years ago, she was faced with a decision; she was pregnant by one of two men, one of whom she knew and the other she didn’t. She could have told the truth to the man she knew or she could lie. She could have said, “I’m pregnant and the child may be yours or it may be this other man’s.” That would certainly have meant that he’d get DNA testing done, which in turn would have meant she’d run the risk that the unknown man was the father. That would have meant no tax benefits and no child support.
So she lied. She never let on about the other man and he was never the wiser until he tried to father a child and discovered he couldn’t. In fact, she lied every day for nine years, on any one of which she could have come clean but didn’t.
And some more of the bad news is that the magistrate apparently bought her snake oil about having forgotten about having sex with the other man. How that’s possible, I don’t know, but there it is. My guess is that her reference to an “earlier abusive relationship” was all it took to utterly cloud the magistrate’s normal skepticism.
Whatever the case, the final bit of bad news is that she’s to repay the defrauded man only $15 every two weeks. Now, he only paid about $3,730 in child support, but still, at that rate it’ll take her almost 10 years to repay him.
Although the article doesn’t say, I suspect the court didn’t consider the present value of the money the man paid, which, if he’d invested it conservatively over the years, would be worth well more than the principal amount. And of course the fact that she’ll take so long to repay degrades the value of her payments even more.
Still, it’s worth knowing that there’s a precedent for requiring a woman who’s defrauded a man about paternity to repay the child support he’s given her.
A small and not unalloyed victory, but a victory nevertheless.