Posts

A judge makes a decision that creates a unique child support solution

A woman sued a man for child support in Brazil for her daughter, now nine years old, who was born after a casual fling.  The judge ordered a DNA test and it came back identifying the man as the father.

Which Twin?

But the man denied he slept with the woman.  It turned out that he had a twin brother.  The woman could not say positively which of the twins she had slept with.

So, the judge ordered the second twin to take a DNA test and it came back as a match as well.  The second twin denied that he slept with the woman.

Faced with a Solomon-like puzzle, Judge Filipe Luis Peruca issued his decision that created a unique child support solution.

“It’s evident that the defendants, from adolescence, took advantage — and continue to take advantage! — of the fact that they are identical twins,” he wrote in the ruling. “It became clear that they used each other’s name to attract as many women as possible and to hide instances of betrayal in their relationships.”

The Two-Father Child Support Solution

The judge ordered that the names of both men be added to the child’s birth certificate. He also ordered each man to pay $60 a month in child support and to collectively pay 50 percent of the child’s school and medical expenses.

That is twice as much child support usually awarded to children with a similar economic background in Brazil.

Police have ordered DNA tests to determine whether Ariel Castro is the father of Amanda Berry’s 6 year old daughter.  He is accused of kidnapping and raping Berry and two other women and holding them captive in his Cleveland home for years.

Many will find it hard to believe that a person convicted of such awful crimes would be able to assert any parental rights such as custody and visitation.

But Maryland, DC and Virginia are among the majority of jurisdictions that do not have laws terminating parental rights upon conviction of rape of the birth mother. So is Ohio.  If Castro sues for custody and visitation, the judge will have to decide based on what’s in the best interest of the child.

Guest post by Lauren Williams, staff writer at King Law Offices, Family Law Attorneys in NC & SC.

In Maryland, a child’s entitlement to support does not depend upon parents’ marital status. Every child is entitled to a level of support in proportion to the parents’ economic position regardless of whether the child is born of wedlock or out-of-wedlock or to parents whose marriage ended in divorce.  As with children of divorce, children born out-of-wedlock are entitled to fairness and equity in regard to child support.

“Born out-of-wedlock” means born to an unmarried female or born to a married female but begotten during the continuance of the marriage status by one other than her husband.

Under Md. Code Ann., Est. & Trusts § 1-206(a) there is a presumption that the child is a legitimate child if the child is born or conceived during a marriage. A child born to parents who are not married is considered to be the child of the mother. Pursuant to Md. Code Ann., Est. & Trusts § 1-208(b), the ‘father and child relationship’ can be established in one of the following four methods: (1) Judicial determination of paternity, (2) Acknowledgment by father in writing that he is the father of the child, (3) Open and notorious recognition by the father that he is the father of the child, or (4) Acknowledgment by father that he is the father of the child after marrying the mother.

The Paternity Statute (Fam. Law §§ 5-1001 through 5-1048) provides a rebuttable presumption that the child is the legitimate child of the man to whom child’s mother was married at the time of conception. Upon request of a party, the court may order the parties (mother, child and the father) to submit to blood or genetic tests to determine the paternity. If the test reveals a statistical probability of the father’s paternity of at least 99.0%, it may be received into evidence and constitutes a rebuttable presumption of the paternity.  The court may pass necessary orders declaring the father based on the test.  The court may also pass necessary orders for 1, support, 2. Custody of the child, 3. Visitation rights with the child, 4. Giving bond, and 5. Any other matter that is related to the general welfare and best interests of the child.

If the child was conceived during a marriage, mere declaration by father claiming to be the father of a child born out-of-wedlock is not sufficient to overcome the presumption of legitimacy of the child based on the time of conception.  In order to overcome the presumption, the father must provide certain proof(s) specified in Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 5-1027(c)(2), (3), and (4).

Maryland follows the income shares model for child support.  Under this model, a child is entitled to a standard of living that corresponds to the economic position and lifestyle of the parents.

In 1986, Essie Lee Morrison of Georgia had a child.  She told her boyfriend, Frank Hatley, now 50 years old, that the child was his.  The two never married and broke up shortly afterwards.

Morrison applied for public support for the child when the child was two years old.   Georgia then collected child support payments from Hatley for the next thirteen years.

In 2000, Hatley learned that the child might not be his. A DNA test confirmed it.  The Court released him from any future child support.  But he signed an agreement with the Office of Child Support Services to pay over $16,000 in past due child support.

Hatley continued to pay that debt down to about $10,000, but fell behind in 2006 when he lost his job.  He was jailed for six months.  He resumed paying.  Then he became unemployed again and lost his home.  The court put him back in jail in June of 2008.

Finally, the court released him from jail last month finding that he was indigent and should not be jailed for failing to make the child support payments.  The debt has been canceled but the State has yet to release his driver’s license and income tax refunds.

More on this story at CNN.com