Washington Law May Allow Men to Stop Child Support Payments with DNA Results
A bill has been introduced in the state of Washington which may allow men who have been exonerated of paternity via a DNA paternity test to cease child support payments. The potential law was put forth by Port Orchard state Senator Jan Angel (R) and is as expected generating controversy with child rights groups. The bill stipulates that a man who has since proven with a genetic comparison test which can be legally recognized, can sever all legal ties- including child support payments- to the child in question within two years of the receiving the test results. The age of the child is not relevant nor the duration of any continued previous child support payments.
In cases where a man is currently under court order to make monthly child provision payments the court which issued the order would still have to grant permission to end the support. If the father can prove that he is not the father with the paternity test then the court must side with him. With the passage of the new bill, it would not matter to the court if the father had previously legally acknowledged the child as his own or not. The bottom line for ending payment and any legal liabilities would lie solely with the results of the paternity test itself.
Duped into paying child support
While certainly not the norm, there are many cases nation-wide where men are allegedly “duped” into paying for children that are not their biological offspring. This can result from having a sexual relationship, or one-night stand with a woman or in many cases long term relationships where the female partner has been unfaithful. In many cases where there exists a longer duration relationship between two people, many men would never even question as to the biological origin of their offspring.
On behalf of men who claim they have been tricked into assuming legal responsibility for a child that is not their own, several gave testimony on Monday, February 10th, 2014, in front of the Washington State Senate Law & Justice Committee. Andrew Evans, a resident of Bremerton, Washington, gave testimony regarding his struggle to unburden himself from a child support ruling which was due to an affair he had with a woman at age 19. Evans claimed that at the time the woman claimed it was his child when she knew in fact it was not. Even though he was able to prove he was not the biological child of the now 7-year-ol, he has been unable to legally cease making monthly child support payments. Evans told the committee “The system is unjust, the current laws have legalized my indentured servitude to this woman.”
Against the bill
Child advocacy groups including the family law section of the Washington State Bar Association are coming out against the bill in defense of the children who will be affected. During testimony at the committee State Sen. Adam Kline (D) seemed to be in agreement with the state bar association as well as Legal Voice and Equal Rights Washington- other organizations who don’t want to see the measure turned into state law. Sen. Kline’s argument repudiated that of the legal defense groups questioning aloud to the committee about the “wisdom” of lettings parents drop out of their parental responsibilities at any point during the child’s life.
Paternity testing is the most accurate tool for establishing whether an alleged father is the biological father of a child. More about paternity test results can be found by clicking here.
If the bill comes out of committee favorably, it could be voted on in the Washington State Senate later this year.