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In the News

Monday, November 22, 2004

Paternity Fraud Victims Finally Rescued


Paternity Fraud Victims Finally Rescued
Press Release from California Alliance for Families & Children

Sacramento, CA (CAFC) California Alliance for Families & Children, November 22, 2004 - California families and tax payers have scored two major victories in the battle against paternity fraud -- a crime committed when a man is fraudulently identified as the father of a child, and is then forced to give up a percentage of his income for child support. The Supreme Court of California on November 10, 2004 refused to depublish the landmark decision by the 2nd District Court of Appeals, Los Angeles County vs. Navarro, holding that men wrongfully identified as the fathers of children cannot be forced to pay child support. Child Support Enforcement aggressively fought to have the ruling depublished.

Linda Ferrer, attorney for Manuel Navarro the defendant in the case, and Michael Robinson of CAFC (www.cafcusa.org) worked diligently to build support to oppose depublishing. The Supreme Court of California had previously depublished similar lower court rulings. Some of the opposition letters that Robinson achieved support from included Legislative members and the County of Los Angeles Public Defender's office. The Public Defender's office has been representing Defendants in these cases at tax payer expense.

Meanwhile, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law AB 252, a bill that is now strengthened by the Navarro decision. Some mothers falsely identify men as the fathers of their children in order to collect high child support benefits. In cases where the actual father has a low income, some mothers may decide to falsely identify other, wealthier men they sleep with as the father. Often the new "dad" doesn't find out that he has been duped -- and is now liable for child support -- until long after the statute of limitations for contesting paternity has expired.

Paternity fraud has cost men and tax payers millions in illegitimate child support sanctions across the country, has ripped apart families and destroyed lives. AB 252 and Navarro now promises to provide relief to these men, some whose current family and children have been seriously hurt financially as a result of mothers who commit this fraud.

Both the bill and the Navarro court decision are major victories for fathers, families and tax payers in California.

In the Navarro case, Los Angeles County, which knew it had wrongfully identified Manuel Navarro was not the father of a 2 boys because of DNA testing, still attempted to collect child support payments from him. Because of an apparent administrative error, he had earlier been misidentified as the father. A Los Angeles County magistrate had ordered that Navarro still needed to pay support, despite the DNA evidence proving he was not the father.

But the Second District Court of Appeal overturned the ruling, and in a blistering decision, rebuked child support officials from pursuing a claim against someone that was known not to be the biological father.

"It is this state's policy that when a mistake occurs in a child support action, the County must correct it, not exploit it," the ruling states. "The County, a political embodiment of its citizens and inhabitants, must always act in the public interest and for the general good. It should not enforce child support judgments it knows to be unfounded. And in particular, it should not ask the courts to assist it in doing so."


Michael Robinson