There Are No Fathers II
June 7, 2013
If you have ever heard the phrase, “Read until I went cross-eyed,” and have not the personal experience to relate, might I suggest an attempt to read your state and local statutes. One hour, tops, and you too will repeat that phrase to your friends and readers with ease.
Good grief. Blogging about family law in a state that just legalized gay marriage and is rewriting everything might not turn out to be one of my smarter moves.
In the first part of this article I painted a picture of putative father registries replacing fathers in my neighbor states with a rather ugly brush. Deservedly so in my obvious opinion. However, so it doesn’t seem like I am only throwing scorn with these articles and in a show of solidarity with my fellow pacific northwest states, even the parts sticking into the mountain zone, I present the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (DHHS)
I like how all 8 links in the table of contents direct a reader to the same .pdf file. I chose to interpret this as meaning even the federal government finds locating information about father sponsor programs as difficult as I do.
In particular of note is paragraph 3 on page 2 of said .pdf file. To paraphrase, “As of June 2010, Arizona, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands provide no statutes defining the term ‘Father’ at all.”
No, you didn’t read that wrong. Father type persons in Pacific Northwest registry states might be defined under state law as formless concepts amounting to little more than nothing, but at least that’s something. Here’s five states and three territories where fathers apparently are defined as being absolutely nothing.
/cheers, go us.
Here in Washington we so far don’t have a putative father registry that I know of though the .pdf above says we do. The statutes listed, #300 and #305, are just various ways to acknowledge paternity, not the establishment of a sponsor program. What we do have is a child support registry that in all honesty would be a better official name for the various father sponsor programs that have now spread to something like 35 states. Truth in advertising and all that.
We also have something called fathers here in Washington. In fact, we took a look at the territories around us and their lack of and are trying to make up for it by providing a wide selection of various shapes and sizes. We have; acknowledged fathers, adjudicated fathers, alleged fathers, relationship fathers, established fathers, determined fathers, domestic fathers, donor fathers, married fathers, unwed fathers and even something called a probable father. That’s just the highlights reel.
Unfortunately what we don’t have is just ‘Father’.
You know, blood of your blood and all that. I like to think this is a father type concept person most of the 7 million people here can relate to yet we seem to have skipped on past that one. Too obvious. The term is rather archaic and we use the modern variant ‘genetic’ as one of the sub-father categories a person can order on our parent menu but it doesn’t apply as a common sense standard.
As alluded to previously, Washington is a paternity fraud state. With a hundred-and-one different father type concept persons here it should be obvious that each one has its own fraud potentials.
One such type of paternity fraud is not committed by mothers or the result of presumptions by marriage, but is committed by the state itself through the establishment of paternity in our civil courts. Since there are no fathers as a general rule here, the state can thus assign by acknowledgment, determination or lottery type drawing that someone, anyone, is established as the father type concept person of a child.
Now, during the 1990s in the state of Washington when you received a notice from the courts that you had been assigned a child and a support order was being filed, you, as the putative father, had 90 days to address the issue. Failure to do so in that time period would result in an automatic judgment against and there is nothing you could do about it after that. Ever. I know this because I received just such a notice in early October of 1998 regarding an ex whom I had broken up with months earlier.
As a disclaimer I don’t consider myself a paternity fraud victim, since I managed a last minute pardon from the govenor staying execution of my sentence. If anything I think paternity fraud survivor would be a better fit if one is needed. And rather than search around for links to other cases in Washington its just easier to use myself as an example. Improving productivity through increased laziness one article at a time would make a good ‘West Report’ T-Shirt.
So the first thing I do the very next morning after receiving this notice is see my lawyer, which made the difference between victim and survivor in the above paragraph. The only further note I will make about that visit is it was made very clear from the start that custody was not an issue. All men are considered unfit parents for their own children here by default so there is no question of custody to begin with. No man, no problem. If the mother is found unfit, custody would then go to the child’s aunt(s), if any, and from there to the child’s grandparents.
On the mother’s side.
That’s right. Washington is so anti-father that grand-parents who have grand-daughters are considered more fit custodial parents than grand-parents who have grand-sons. Now I have yet to see the social science backing these statutes but they must make for some very interesting reading in order to reach such a conclusion.
Only after all of that when the custodial branches reached a choosing point between foster care, adoption and father care would I, as a man in the state of Washington, be given consideration for custody of my own child.
/cheers, go us.
Assuming the child was even mine of course and with that I proceeded to the official state DNA testing facility conveniently located in a basement office only a few blocks away.
Now the fist thing I notice when I got there, other than the basement part, is that it was full of women. Not in the waiting area mind, but the entire front and back offices with me the only civilian around. I hadn’t called ahead since this was so important, and had just grabbed a book, marked off the rest of my day and showed up determined to wait. I saw and talked to a lot of people working there during what followed and they were all women, I didn’t see a single man there the entire time. Not even any evidence of one having ever being there before in any role other than potential victim.
Talk about a hostile environment.
At least I didn’t have to wait long since I was the only one there and the staff began taking measurements and personal information right away. You know, to figure out what father type concept person fit best before some child was assigned to me by the state. After taking a cheek swab the worker said the test results would be back in about 9 days and I think the official time was 15.
So a week goes by and then two. And then a third week goes by and then four so now it is November and still nothing. The month of November goes by and so does December. Still nothing. The opening business day of 1999, I find myself first thing in the morning, talking with my lawyer just like the whole mess started the previous October. This time wondering, “what now? The 90 days is almost up and still no test results.”
Only after my lawyer contacted the state facility about filing for an extension on the 90 days did they turn over the results. Right there one call start to finish. So the results were obviously already sitting there and had presumably been so for months. I of course was not the child’s father.
What the state of Washington was trying to do by sitting on the results as explained to me was one of at least two things;
1) time me out so an automatic finding against as a ‘determined father’ by the courts would be entered and the support order then enforced by default.
2) the state was waiting to see if it could establish contact between the ex and myself. If there had been any during those months the courts could rule against me as a ‘relationship father’ so the DNA test couldn’t be used to contest the support order.
Since there are no fathers here you can see why we instead provide such a wide selection of father type concepts in their place. If one doesn’t fit then another can be found to suit any shape, size or need. And yes, the wording that gives the impression of a disposable accessory item is intentional.
Notice also that when a woman tells you she is pregnant under our state law you are supposed to have no contact with her until you get the results of a DNA test. If you do then regardless of the results a finding making you the legal father can be entered by the court because in sticking around that is considered a voluntary establishment of a father child relationship. Neat huh? Try and keep that in mind the next, “Woe is me, I told him I was pregnant and he disapeared,” type movie you watch.
In any event, the obvious initial result of such a finding against me would have been the child’s actual father having his child taken from him by the state of Washington, knowingly, with my test results sitting right there the whole time. Not only that but the child would of then been assigned to a complete stranger, me, with no connection to it other than a previous involvement with the mother that had ended months before. That is what passes for “best interest of the child” in Washington state.
And I also bring up that point as an obvious example supporting the statement that no child in the state of Washington has a basic civil right to a parental relationship. For anyone keeping score, under the Children’s Bill of Rights as part of the U.N. Charter, that would be considered a human rights violation.
/cheers, go us.
In all fairness though, the state of Washington did recognize that this law was a problem. That too many wrongly named men were having to clear their good names in our courts. So later that very year in 1999 our legislature changed the statute from 90 days to resolve a paternity petition to 20 days. The state’s solution was to make it virtually impossible to contest such support orders. Not kidding, look up the old versions yourself.
I find that extraordinary since the state sat on my test results far longer than 20 days. If what had happened to me had been only one year later I would have had a default judgment against me in place for over two months before the state even admitted to having those results. At that point of course it would have been too late to contest the ruling.
I would like to write that things are better and since improved but they haven’t. The current version of the statute can be found here. Today, a man in this state has 60 days, but a new addition to the sentence, (B), that was not there before says, or until a court date. Since it doesn’t say otherwise I can only assume this can mean as little as only one day to contest a finding of paternity.
1 day. This in a state that sat on my results for months. Good grief. So almost 15 years later I can report that paternity fraud is not only alive and well here in Washington but easier to commit than ever.
I should hope by now its obvious I’m not a lawyer, which funny enough, means I can hand out all the legal advice I want. With that in mind and in light of us having just legalized gay marriage, doesn’t that mean a father type concept person no longer even has to be male? Which raises so many different topics I will use those for writing the next article.
I will mention it here as a closing by noting recent headlines in the case of William Marottoa as seen here from The Topeka Capital-Journal. Basically, a sperm donor did just that for a lesbian couple who broke up and the state now wants to place a child support order against the male donor, not the ex-parent.
Now the case seems to hinge on the fact that the donation wasn’t done through an official donor clinic so isn’t being considered valid. Kansas also does not recognize gay marriage so the birth mother was given custody of the child resulting in a support order filed against the sperm donor, not the lesbian ex.
Now obviously the specific legalities don’t reflect Washington, but it does raise some interesting questions if that case had happened here. We legalized gay marriage so its only a matter of time before it does.
The non-birth mother would be the legally recognized father type concept person under our statutes. The minor child would have the same rights of receiving child support under our statutes from the non-birth mother father type concept person as any other would. Does custody of the child still automatically default to the birth mother? In a marriage with no woman to default custody to does this mean gay fathers have greater parental and custodial rights than hetero fathers? Are deadbeat lesbian dads more or less likely to pay child support than male ones?
Don’t laugh, or try not to, but a “non-birth mother father” and “lesbian dad” are father type concept persons appearing soon in a statute near you too. Just wait. And obviously I will be using them as further examples to count the many ways why there really are no fathers.The West Report The opinions expressed in The West Report are the author’s own. Feel free to repost or share, we just ask you credit or link to this article as a source.
As an addendum to article #1, the host page for the Idaho registry form that was linked to is here, right side, third link from the bottom.
Also the 1999 date I listed for Oregon’s registry was from a legislative transcript but another from 2011 only suggests a registry. Odd wording if the state already has one. So the 1999 enactment date is most likely wrong but I have nothing solid to replace it with. I did find some reference to a Putative Father Registry form #45-115, but nothing at the state website. The .pdf above, current to 2010, says Oregon doesn’t have a registry, but 2011 statutes about it, #109.094 and #109.225, here read as if it does. Adoption websites also direct readers to the putative registry in Oregon and provide only a physical mailing address for the state vital records office. So, make of the whole mess what you will.