Mother has Child.
Mother applies for public assistance.
The application requires Mother to designate Child’s father.
Mother lists Man.
Thereafter, Michigan Family Court enters order for Man to pay child support for Child.
Man does not pay the child support.
Child support arrears accrue over time until the past due amount reaches $30,000.
Man now faces jail for nonpayment of child support.
Oh, a paternity test confirms that Man is not the biological father of the Child for whom he has been ordered to pay child support.
That sounds awful and unjust. And it is.
But this is the short version of the story, which is currently receiving wide publicity.
While the full story may not seem fair either, a few details have likely been omitted, which may mitigate the degree of unfairness. What sort of details?
For starters, generally, before a court enters an order for child support, the alleged father is personally served with a summons, providing him with advance notice that the mother is seeking support from him, and alerting the alleged father that he has a right to tell his side of the story … at a hearing at a specified date and time … spelled out in the notice personally served on him.
That is the alleged father’s golden opportunity, the ideal time and place, the only proper time and place, to request a paternity test – and, if paternity is disproved by that means, a child support order will not be entered against the alleged father.
But, as with so many things in life, timing is everything.
After a child support order is already entered by the court, things get a lot more complicated. In the eyes of the law, the facts of who did what are settled … covered in dust and more or less set in stone. Later producing a paternity test that disputes what is already set in stone is too little, too late.
Plus, no family court judge is going to feel quite as charitable toward an alleged father (or anyone else) who has ignored being served and ignored a hearing they had reasonable notice of. What were they waiting for?
And that is the big takeaway. When it comes to the law and divorce court, turning a blind eye to communications from the family court is just never going to be a winning strategy. Period.
Read more in this WPVI ABC TV 6 Action News Philadelphia story: Man may be jailed for not paying child support for son who isn’t his .