Men’s Groups Lobbying to Challenge Prior Paternity Support Judgments – With Increasing Success

According to an American Bar Association article, the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 led to many poorly educated, low income men being on the hook for supporting children who were not really theirs.

The statute paved the way for states providing public assistance to mothers and their children to recover support from non-supporting fathers.

The article concludes that most alleged fathers lose their cases by default when they don’t appear, or from ignorance when they do appear.

The authors condemn the statute and propose that the federal government act to ensure that paternity be confirmed by DNA testing before support orders are entered.

The article does not appear to address defendant / respondent fathers who completely ignore child support proceedings against them – including orders to submit to DNA testing, and actual fathers who simply resent or don’t want to pay support for their children and will not play by the rules.

Read more in this Baltimore Sun opinion piece: Changes opened a paternity-fraud trap for men.

Florida has recently joined the ranks of states which have introduced a measure permitting non-fathers to disestablish or overturn mistaken paternity judgments previously validly entered.

This is a sharp departure from all other types of legal cases, where a judgment is final (except for an appeal), so long as the defendant / respondent had proper notice of the case against him and the resulting opportunity to defend against a judgment being entered.

Relief under this new Florida law is barred, however, where the father failed to comply during the original paternity proceedings with an order to submit to DNA testing.