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A paternity fraud bill before the Washington legislature, SB 5006 and its companion HB 1524, that would allow wrongly named men to disestablish paternity has been moving this year but its not too late to have your voice heard.

Senate Bill 5006 was delayed earlier this month while an amendment to address the concerns of Washington State DHSH was hammered out. The amended bill has since been adopted and passed through the Senate Law & Justice committee where it is now being looked at by the Senate Ways & Means committee. I’ve learned that a report is being prepared for the committee on the amended bill but as of this article there is no hearing date set. In order for the bill to keep moving through the legislature the committee needs to schedule a hearing by the end of next week. And this is where you can help.

Comment on SB 5006

Say you support this bill and are asking that the Senate Ways and Means schedule a hearing before Friday, Feb. 27th. Your message will be sent to every legislator.

Currently 14 states have such anti-paternity fraud laws or Supreme Court rulings in place, Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri and Texas. Once passed SB 5006 would make Washington State number 15 on that list.

Of note, an additional 4 states allow a selective ability to appeal, Colorado, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. Colorado for example a wrongly named father can only appeal during a divorce or child support action. 2 states, New Hampshire plus California, have established commissions looking into the problem of paternity fraud.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services approximately 46 States, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands make provisions allowing putative fathers to contest a notice claiming paternity. Of these States, approximately 13 allow revocation at any time. The link report is a year old, compiled during 2013 and that number is now up to 15 states.

Here in Washington we currently only have 60 days or less to contest a claim of paternity.

Once named, a non-parent has no right of appeal to that finding even in cases of duress, fraud and mistake of fact. This bill would no longer allow the state to deny an appeal of paternity once DNA testing has shown the wrong person has been named. Help pass SB 5006 / HB 1524.

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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.

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An online petition to help end paternity fraud here in Washington State has been started at change.org. Show your support for SB 5006 and add your signature to others here in the Pacific Northwest by signing today. Click the link and let your voice be heard.

End Paternity Fraud @ Change.org

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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.

“An ACT Relating to authorizing the termination of all legal responsibilities of a nonparent if genetic testing shows by clear and convincing evidence that a man is not the genetic father of a child.”

This is the opening statement quoted from Washington State Senate Bill 5006. I have written before about Paternity Fraud still being legal here in my state and this bill being run during the upcoming 2015 legislative session aims to finally provide a legal remedy to victims.

You can read the full bill text here (SB 5006).

Having passed through the Law and Justice committee, a first and second reading by the Rules Committee, a short 60 day legislative session ended last year before the bill could be brought to the floor for a vote. With 105 days to work with during the 2015 legislative session victims of paternity fraud in Washington State hope to finally enjoy fairness and equity before the law.

This year not only will it be run in the senate but a companion bill is also being run in the house along side. It should be filed within the next couple of weeks and I’ll post up a notice once there is a house bill number (HB #) assigned to it.

 

Here are some ways you can help.

• Now is the time to contact legislators and ask them to please support this legislation and doing so has never been easier. Just follow this link, Comment on SB 5006, type a brief message asking to please support this bill and click submit. Your message of support will be sent to every legislator our state.

• If you live in Washington, you can use the Washington State District Finder to locate your individual Representatives and Senator to contact individually in support of SB 5006.

• You can also gather petitions to mail or present to Washington Legislators. Download link, (Petition to Pass .PDF).

 

Preparing to start talking to my Representatives and Senator about the upcoming legislation I started looking at arguments opposing it. For this article I have taken objections to this legislation from state transcripts of previous hearings on SB 5006 and offered what I hope is a reasoned counter view to get the conversation ball rolling. Some I have divided into parts to easier express different points of view.

So lets look at some objections to this Bill that support Paternity Fraud in my State:

 

*** You can already appeal paternity within the child’s first (4) years Part 1 ***

This is not true.

What the Revised Codes of Washington (RCW) say is that you may attempt, you might try, but the court can deny your appeal even when filed within those (4) years (RCW 26.26.535). Under this Bill a wrongly named person could no longer be denied an appeal and must do so within (2) years.

 

*** You can already appeal paternity within the child’s first (4) years Part 2 ***

This objections ignores cases where someone is named father of a child that is 5+ years old. You could literally be named a child’s father yesterday and today it’s already too late to appeal because you are passed the first (4) years.

This objection also ignores the fact that indications a child might not be yours often don’t appear until after that time limit. Physical traits such as hair color might not change until a child is (5) years old. I would direct my legislators to the FBI website on finding missing children as veracity of that claim. I know my hair color, back when I still had hair, didn’t change from blond to brown until I was five.

 

*** There is no requirement that the correct father be identified Part 1 ***

There is no such requirement in this Bill because that law is already in place.

When our courts require a Mother to name a person as the Father of her child she does so under the penalty of perjury. The Mother is already required to name the correct person or all possible persons.

What the State is not supposed to be able to do is hold just any random person other than the Mother and her partner financially liable for actions they were not responsible for, did not facilitate, participate, a party of or even know about. To do so requires a suspension of Due Process under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

 

*** There is no requirement that the correct father be identified Part 2 ***

There is no legal basis for this objection under our current RCW. (Uniform Parentage Act)

In fact, when not required by the courts, Fathers in Washington State do not have a basic civil right to know of, or be informed of, a birth or pregnancy. I would ask any legislator who would voice a no identification objection to instead sponsor a bill that gives children their Fathers by establishing such a right.

 

*** There is nothing in this Bill that increases the State’s support enforcement powers ***

Nothing in this Bill takes away from the State’s ability to enforce a support order so there is no added provisions increasing it.

Already the State can burden any random person with court imposed debt through a support order that the individual was not liable for, did not incur, know of, nor had anything to do with in the first place. If unable or unwilling to pay, the Court will then incarcerate that person even though our State Constitution specifically prohibits imprisoning citizens for debt. (WA Const. art. I, § 17)

Our family Courts already have what amounts to unlimited power to put in place and enforce a support order up to and including; Remove your child from you without a finding of unfitness, Deny consideration of your parental rights, Facilitate an adoption without notice or your consent, Force a complete stranger to adopt your child against their will, Imprison citizens for court imposed debt, Deny putative fathers the assistance of appointed counsel, Suspension of your State Constitution, Suspension of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments relating to Due Process, Deny an appeal to a judgment based solely upon proved perjured testimony.

What more could you possibly add? And this Bill does not stop the State from doing any of this. All this Bill says is when the court has done it to the wrong person, they get to appeal and only have a (2) year window to do so.

 

*** This Bill could leave children without support ***

Simply not true.

You cannot retroactively modify a support order so all money owed at the time of a successful paternity appeal would still be owed. The amount would be set to $0.00 and accrue from that point on until an order is placed against the actual Father. There is no loss of support for the child and nothing under this Bill hinders the State in collecting from the correct person.

It’s a fact that at least (12) other states have passed similar legislation or precedent rulings here in the U.S. and the results have not been children left without support. (Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio and Texas to name a few)

 

*** We should focus on the interest of the child part 1 ***

I know. At this point your probably thinking something along the lines of, “Oh you cold hearted bastard, how could you possibly argue against that?”

Just stick with me for a second.

You see, here in the State of Washington your parental rights are supposed to be considered prior to the interests of the child. And in every single case that SB 5006 would affect the parental rights of the father have been dismissed and only those of the mother and child considered. These children are then removed from their father without a finding of unfitness and our courts have then facilitated what amounts to a backroom adoption of that child without notice or consent of their father. All of which is already supposed to be illegal, unconstitutional or both.

Not to mention immoral, unethical and not representative of Washington State family values.

 

*** We should focus on the interest of the child part 2 ***

Not to put too fine a point on it but in all the cases affected by SB 5006 we are talking about the best interest of someone else’s child.

When I was served notice of a paternity action back in the 90’s the court already had my DNA test and knew there was no contact with the mother or child and hadn’t been for almost two years. In cases like mine you’re talking about the best interest of an absolute complete stranger. And the best interest of an absolute complete stranger is not supposed to be grounds for any kind of legal action against you in the first place!

 

*** The Father Child bond may be damaged – part 1 ***

This is not a relevant objection. Only if someone other than the child’s Father has been named so would this Bill apply.

If damage to a Father Child bond is of concern then it is a concern that supports the passage of this Bill. After its passage the wrongly named person will be able to disestablish paternity thus allowing our courts to name the correct person as a Father so that bond can be established and a parental relationship enjoyed.

 

*** The Father Child bond may be damaged – part 2 ***

Father, Step Father, Adoptive Father and Mom’s Boyfriend are (4) different things in the State of Washington. (RCW 26.26)

After passage of this bill not one father child bond will be damaged. In all the situations this bill addresses the state has already removed these children from their father without a finding of unfitness, thus denying child and father the establishment of that bond to begin with.

If the Mother is married to the wrongly named person in question then at best you’re talking about a Step-Father Child bond. And I’ve yet to see a single piece of credible social science that shows how removing a child from a fit father to protect a mom’s boyfriend child bond is in anyone’s best interest.

 

*** The Father Child bond may be damaged – part 3 ***

Harm to a father child bond when used as an excuse to oppose this bill is saying the child;

• has no claim against the Mother or State for emotional abuse. (Emotional Abuse: Defined as Domestic Violence by the U.S. Dept. Of Justice)

• has no claim against the Mother or State for denial of a parental relationship with, or even knowing who, it’s father is. (Defined as a Human Rights violation by the International Convention on the Rights of a Child)

• has no right of identity, family history or medical history. (Also defined as a Human Rights Violation)

• has no legal protection from being adopted without notice or consent of its Father. (Supposed to be illegal in Washington State, (RCW 26.33)

• has no protection against human trafficking. (Sounds extreme I know, but removing a child from a fit parent and forcibly adopting it to a complete stranger for financial gain does fit within the legal definition of Human Trafficking. National Institute of Justice)

 

Further, harm to a Father Child bond when used as an excuse to oppose this Bill is saying;

• The Father and Step Father have no claim of emotional abuse against the Mother or State. (It’s still domestic violence when a woman does it to a man folks)

• A court order based on perjured testimony should be upheld and not allowed an appeal. (Supposed to be unconstitutional. See: Annotation 16 of the Fourteenth Amendment)

• In cases where there is no father child bond or contact with the child and a finding of paternity has resulted from perjured testimony, presumption or default judgments, the wrongly named person should still be denied due process and not allowed to appeal. (The best interest of an absolute complete stranger is not supposed to be grounds for any kind of legal action against you in the first place)

• Fathers in Washington can have their children taken from them by the State without a finding of unfitness. (A parent’s constitutionally protected right to rear their children without state interference, has been recognized as a fundamental “liberty” interest protect by the Fourteenth Amendment and also as a fundamental right derived from the privacy rights inherent in the Constitution. Washington State Supreme Court 1998)

• The wrongly named person who was falsely led to believe paternity has no civil or criminal monetary claim against the Mother or State. (See; fraud in the inducement, fraud in the factum, intrinsic fraud, extrinsic fraud, constructive fraud)

• Fathers have no basic civil right to know of or be informed of a birth or pregnancy. (As I wrote earlier this one is legal here in Washington. I would ask any legislator who believes Washington citizens should have a basic right to know who your father is to sponsor such a bill granting thus.)

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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.

Paternity Fraud is still legal in Washington State but a Bill being introduced during the upcoming legislative session aims to provide a legal remedy to victims. Read it here.

Having passed through the Law and Justice committee, a first and second reading by the Rules Committee, a short 60 day legislative session ended last year before the Bill could be brought to the floor for a vote. With 105 days to work with during the 2015 legislative session victims of paternity fraud in Washington State hope to finally enjoy fairness and equity before the law.

To help, find your District and who your Legislators are using the Washington State District Finder and ask them to support this Bill. You can also download a petition form for gathering signatures and send to your legislators. Petition to Pass .PDF

Preparing to start talking to my Representatives and Senators about the upcoming legislation I started looking at arguments opposing it. For this article I have taken five objections to the Bill from State transcripts during previous hearings on SB 5997 and offered what I hope is a reasoned counter view to get the conversation ball rolling.

So lets look at some objections to this Bill that support Paternity Fraud in my State:

 

*** You can already appeal paternity within the child’s first (4) years ***

This is not true.

What the Revised Codes of Washington (RCW) says is that you may attempt, you might try, but the court can deny your appeal even when filed within those (4) years (RCW 26.26.535). Under this Bill a wrongly named person could no longer be denied an appeal and must do so within (2) years.

 

*** There is no requirement that the correct father be identified ***

There is no such requirement in this Bill because that law is already in place.

When a Mother names a person as the Father of her child she does so under the penalty of perjury. The Mother is already required to name the correct person or all possible persons to the court.

If a woman choses to have anonymous relations at random then she is allowed to do so. What the State is not supposed to be able to do is then hold someone other than her and her partner accountable for those actions.

To do so requires a suspension of Due Process in order for the state to find just any random person, other than the Mother and her partner, to be legally liable for actions they are not responsible for, did not facilitate, did not participate, a party of or even know about.

 

*** There is nothing in this Bill that increases the State’s support enforcement powers ***

Nothing in this Bill takes away from the State’s ability to enforce a support order so there is no added provisions increasing it.

Already the State can burden any random person with court imposed debt through a support order that the individual was not liable for, did not incur, know of, nor had anything to do with in the first place. If unable or unwilling to pay, the Court will then incarcerate that person even though our State Constitution specifically prohibits imprisoning citizens for debt. (WA Const. art. I, § 17)

Our family Courts already have what amounts to unlimited power to put in place and enforce a support order up to and including; remove a child from its father without a finding of unfitness, facilitate an adoption without notice or consent of the Father, force a complete stranger to adopt a child against their will, imprison citizens for court imposed debt, deny defendants the right to have the assistance of counsel, suspension of our State Constitution and suspension of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments relating to Due Process.

What more could you possibly add? And this Bill does not stop the State from doing any of this. All this Bill says is when the court has done so, you get to appeal.

 

*** This Bill could leave children without support ***

Simply not true.

You cannot retroactively modify a support order so all money owed at the time of a successful paternity appeal would still be owed. The amount would be set to $0.00 and accrue from that point on until an order is placed against the actual Father. There is no loss of support for the child and nothing under this Bill hinders the State in collecting from the correct person.

It’s a fact that at least (12) other states have passed similar legislation here in the U.S. and the results have not been children left without support. (Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland and Texas to name a few)

 

*** The Father Child bond may be damaged – part 1 ***

This is not a relevant objection. Only if someone other than the child’s Father has been named so would this Bill apply.

If damage to a Father Child bond is of concern then it is a concern that supports the passage of this Bill. After its passage the wrongly named person will be able to disestablish paternity thus allowing our Courts to name the correct person as the Father so that bond can be established and a parental relationship enjoyed.

 

*** The Father Child bond may be damaged – part 2 ***

After passage of this Bill not one Father Child bond will be damaged. In all the situations this Bill addresses the State has already removed the child from its Father without a finding of unfitness, thus denying Child and Father the establishment of that bond to begin with.

Father, Step Father, Adoptive Father and Mom’s Boyfriend are (4) different things under Washington State RCW. If the Mother is married to the wrongly named person in question then at best you’re talking about a Step-Father Child bond. And I’ve yet to see a single piece of credible science that shows how removing a child from a fit father to protect a Mom’s Boyfriend Child bond is in anyone’s best interest.

 

*** The Father Child bond may be damaged – part 3 ***

Harm to a Father Child bond when used as an excuse to oppose this Bill is saying the child;

• has no claim against the Mother or State for emotional abuse. (Emotional Abuse: Defined as Domestic Violence by the U.S. Dept. Of Justice)

• has no claim against the Mother or State for denial of a parental relationship with, or even knowing who, it’s father is. (Defined as a Human Rights violation by the International Convention on the Rights of a Child)

• has no right of identity, family history or medical history. (Also defined as a Human Rights Violation)

• has no legal protection from being adopted without notice or consent of its Father. (Supposed to be illegal in Washington State, RCW 26.33)

• has no protection against human trafficking. (Sounds extreme I know, but removing a child from a fit parent and forcibly adopting it to a complete stranger for financial gain does fit within the legal definition of Human Trafficking. National Institute of Justice)

 

Further, harm to a Father Child bond when used as an excuse to oppose this Bill is saying;

• The Father and Step Father have no claim of emotional abuse against the Mother or State. (It’s still domestic violence when a woman does it to a man folks)

• A court order based on perjured testimony should be upheld and not allowed an appeal. (Supposed to be unconstitutional. See: Annotation 16 of the Fourteenth Amendment

• Situations where there is no Father Child bond or contact the wrongly named person should still be denied due process and not allowed to appeal paternity. (The best interest of an absolute complete stranger is not supposed to be a valid excuse to suspend your Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments)

• Fathers in Washington can have their children taken from them by the State without a finding of unfitness. (A parent’s constitutionally protected right to rear their children without state interference, has been recognized as a fundamental “liberty” interest protect by the Fourteenth Amendment and also as a fundamental right derived from the privacy rights inherent in the Constitution. Washington State Supreme Court 1998)

• The wrongly named person who was falsely led to believe paternity has no civil or criminal monetary claim against the Mother or State. (See; fraud in the inducement, fraud in the factum, intrinsic fraud, extrinsic fraud, constructive fraud)

• Fathers have no basic civil right to know of or be informed of a birth or pregnancy. (Actually this one is legal, there is no law providing Fathers here with such. It is still however unethical, immoral and not in line with Washington State family values.)

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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.
 

With no fix yet on the books, Paternity Fraud continues to thrive here in Washington State. This year, however, citizens and elected officials are going to try and start changing that. A Bill has been drafted for the next legislative session that would allow incorrectly named parents and victims of fraud or forced adoption to appeal such rulings by our family courts.

You can download the Senate version of the Bill as a .pdf here.

Last year’s effort to help combat paternity fraud was hampered by a late start and a very short legislative session. Still, the bill made it past the Law and Justice Committee in Olympia and on through a second reading by the Senate Rules Committee. As far as I know this is the furthest any legislation of this type has ever gotten so there’s plenty to be encouraged about. The text of the bill this year is identical to last and the .pdf linked above still shows the previous date. When it is updated with a new number by the Senate and House for this year I will report on it here for you.

This year we have elections happening across the state for legislative positions and only the Senate Bill has a primary sponsor. A companion bill for the House is planned and exactly whom will sponsor that we won’t know until after elections. What we don’t have to wait on however is informing our current elected officials about this bill already in the works. Residents of Washington State can find the contact information for their representatives in the House & Senate by using the Washington District Finder.

As you probably summarized by how I started this article one of the biggest problems allowing paternity fraud to flourish in our state is the inability of victims to appeal wrongful orders handed down in our family court system. Currently under the Revised Codes of Washington State (RCW) judges can simply refuse such an appeal even when lawfully filed within the (4) year time limit to do so. You can show up at the court house with all the evidence, paperwork and DNA tests you want on day one of those four years and it’ll still do no good.

The guidelines allowing the court to refuse an appeal can be read here, RCW 26.26.535. For those that choose to give them a glance I would challenge you to try and come up with any set of circumstances that the court still couldn’t refuse your appeal with. They are incredibly generalized. The fact that there is a four year time limit suggests that an appeal might be possible but I fail to imagine under what conditions that might be.

The bill being worked on now would allow the disestablishment of paternity when genetic testing shows by clear and convincing evidence that the wrong person has been named as the birth father of a child. A petition must be filed within two (2) years after knowledge of facts indicating the man is not the child’s birth father. While not stopping paternity fraud from happening this is still a step in the right direction for Washington State by providing a legal remedy once it has come to light by allowing an appeal.

I’ll be following up this article with more on paternity fraud in Washington State and any new news on the bill. Some of it may be repetitive for my long time readers but hopefully mitigated with direct opinions or quotes by our representatives through feedback and any interview granted me. Stay tuned!

For now I will just close out with a big Thank You to the bill Sponsors and everyone helping with this year’s legislation.

 

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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.

Open Letter on SB 5997

February 14, 2014

I would ask the Senate Rules Committee, Senate Committee on Law & Justice and entire Washington State Legislature to please support Senate Bill 5997.

Senate Bill 5997 would allow the disestablishment of paternity when genetic testing shows by clear and convincing evidence that the wrong man has been named as the birth father of a child. A petition must be filed within two (2) years after knowledge of facts indicating the man is not the child’s birth father.

Currently under the Revised Codes of Washington State (RCW) when the wrong man is named as a child’s birth father there is no remedy to correct that error. SB 5997, when passed, would allow the court to correct that error by naming the correct man as a child’s birth father.

When a finding of paternity is made in error the consequences are many. A few of the obvious;

The child’s birth father has his child taken from him by our State Courts without a finding of parental unfitness.
The erroneous finding of paternity results in an adoption having taken place without notice or consent of the child’s actual father.
Both the child and birth father are denied forming a parental relationship.
The child is denied a right of identity, heritage, a familial bond and family medical history.

Before passing to the Rules Committee for a 2nd reading, a hearing for SB 5997 was held by the Committee on Law & Justice on January 20th. Several concerns were voiced in opposition and I would like to reply to those in support for this Bill.

– “A person can already challenge paternity during the first four (4) years.”

Currently, RCW 26.26.535 and 2011 c 283 s 33, our courts can deny a petition to challenge paternity even when filed during the first four (4) years. SB 5997 would no longer allow that denial so that the correct man can be named as the child’s birth father.

In cases of fraud, not allowing a birth father to establish paternity simply because it was a really good lie is wrong.

A basic civil right to self, identity and a parental relationship with your birth father are basic human rights that I think we should all enjoy. Under our current RCW, we don’t.

– “This bill does not increase the ability of our courts to enforce a support order.”

What more could we possibly add? Wage garnishments, IRS seizure, state liens, loan denial, license suspension, arrest, imprisonment, up to and including support orders against any random name from the phone book.

Nothing under SB 5997 hinders the state in placing and enforcing support orders, reimbursements or estate recovery. It simply gives our courts another tool to place them against the correct person when an error has been shown. There are no additional powers granted to the State under SB 5997 because there doesn’t need to be.

– “This bill could be devastating to the child if left without child support.”

In this, the ends do not justify the means. Taking a child from its birth father without notice, consent or a finding of unfitness simply to enforce a support order is wrong.

Allowing no appeal to a court order based on what may be perjured testimony simply because four (4) years has passed is also wrong. Especially when our courts can deny such an appeal even when filed within that time.

We also can’t retroactively apply a disestablishment of paternity to a support order. Meaning, that the child has already received that support and it must still be paid. Aid, benefits and support would then accrue until applied to the correctly named man would it not? As I read it, nothing under Senate Bill 5997 changes that.

– “Parentage does not require a person to be the biological father.”

There is no reason why you cannot develop a healthy, loving relationship with a non-biological father figure in your own life and SB 5997 does not prevent that in any way.

Nor does this Bill require that the Father only be a biological one and does not affect putative fathers who accept paternity irregardless.

– “This bill gives an unlimited amount of time to contest paternity.”

 Only in cases where fraud is suspect would a man have reason to petition paternity. And even then he must do so within two (2) years after knowledge of facts indicating the man is not the child’s birth father.

– If you can have a common law wife then you can have a common law child, not knowing that the child isn’t really yours.

The days when if you shook hands with a woman on the third Thursday of an odd number month you are then considered married are over. We got rid of that years ago for just reason. Turns out that a relationship with your birth father is a good thing.

And the idea that any boyfriend who happens to be around at the time is just as good I find to be rather insulting.

Senate Bill 5997 would not prevent a false establishment of paternity. Now, however, once passed there would be a legal remedy when an error can be shown. Currently under Washington State RCW there is none.

Ethics, morals, family values, parental relationship, fairness and equity before the law. All good reasons to support Senate Bill 5997 and I am asking my Legislature to do just that.

Thank you for reading.

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The legislative session this year is a short 60 days and is almost over. Citizens and readers can help pass SB 5997 by voicing your support on the Washington State website. Your message will be sent to every state legislator.

Comment on SB 5997

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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.

I’ve written before about paternity fraud being legal in Washington State and how nothing is being done about it. Now however, with SB 5997, something just might be.

Senate Bill 5997 would allow a wrongly named man to petition in court to rescind an acknowledgment of paternity, challenge a presumption of paternity, or contest an adjudication of paternity if genetic testing shows by clear and convincing evidence that the man is not the genetic father of the child. The petition must be filed within two years (2) after knowledge of facts indicating the man is not the child’s genetic father.

Important point there. Two years after indication.

Under the current Revised Codes of Washington (RCW) if a court ruling based on perjured testimony can be stretched out for four (4) years then there is nothing that can be done about it. Throw up all the DNA tests you want. Will get you nowhere.

That’s why it is called paternity fraud folks.

Also under the current Washington State RCW the courts retain the right to ignore or refuse to allow a DNA test if it still wants to extort money from the wrongly named man. So even if you try to contest a finding of paternity within the four (4) years allowed the court can still say no.

Neat huh?

Both detractors and members of the Senate Committee on Law & Justice repeated multiple times that current law gives you four (4) years to contest paternity as if that meant you could. That there is nothing under our State law that says you’ll actually be allowed to is a glaring omission.

Now SB 5997 won’t stop paternity fraud from happening. The Superior Courts of Washington can still slap support orders on any random name from the phone book it wants to. But at least now the courts would have the ability to name the correct person as a child’s father once an error has been shown. And since it would no longer be able to refuse a DNA test for the first four (4) years it would be in the best interest of the child and the courts in naming the correct father to begin with.

And the state isn’t going to lose money.

When SB 5997 is passed the wrongly named man would still have to pay what was owed at the time. Benefits would then add up and be passed on to the correctly named father. Talk about insult to injury. Lied to, cheated on, ripped off, family lost, finally get out from a court order, and then have your license suspended, police arrested and then thrown in jail for being too poor to pay for a child already court ordered not to be yours.

But at least this is a step in the right direction for Washington State.

The State report from the January 20th hearing before the Senate Committee on Law & Justice can be read here:

SB 5997 Report

So, lets review shall we? Taken from said report;

“Staff Summary of Public Testimony: PRO: This is a matter of fairness and equity. In many cases there is no legal recourse for a man when he discovers through DNA testing that he is not the biological father but is paying child support. The discovery may happen long after the limitations allowed by law. Paying child support for someone else’s child is very burdensome and affects the ability to support your own biological children. Failure to pay a legal obligation such as child support may result in a driver license suspension or arrest.”

Huh. Now all good points yes, but I was at that meeting and spoke in favor of SB 5997. My testimony, as disclosure for this article, is included at the bottom of this blog posting and my words were, “… you will be arrested, labeled a dead-beat Dad, and then thrown in prison.” Did we stop throwing people in prison for not paying support? Apparently the staff that summarized the report think we have.

I also said, “When the wrong man is named by our courts the first result is that the child’s actual father has his child taken from him by the State, without a finding of unfitness. This is very wrong.” Not to mention supposedly illegal and down right unconstitutional. Washington’s current RCW allow a legal loophole around around the requirement of a finding of unfitness but that doesn’t seem to be a problem.

Obviously I feel that the State of Washington can just take your child from you for no reason is unethical, immoral and a serious crime against parent and child alike.

All and all however, the Pro Summary sizes the issue up well enough, Fairness and Equity before the Law.

It takes a big man to step up to the plate and boldly declare that to Olympia. Fairness and Equity before the Law. I would like to thank Senator Jan Angel when she stepped up and did just that by sponsoring this bill. My blog is out of Washington’s 3rd District in Spokane, but however Senate Bill 5997 turns out, the 26th District is lucky to have a Senator with strong ethics that supports Washington State family values with more than just words.

And now, for the detractors, also taken from said report;

“Staff Summary of Public Testimony: CON: This bill could be devastating to the child if left without child support. A person already has up to four years to challenge paternity. This period is longer than most states. We should keep a child-centered approach. Parentage does not require a person to be the biological father.”

Oh hell, where to begin. Lets just go in order here shall we?

1) This bill could be devastating to the child if left without child support.
* Nothing under SB 5997 hinders the State in collecting support from the child’s birth father.
* 5 other states have bills like this. Where are all the case studies of children left without support?
 
2) A person already has up to four years to challenge paternity.
* The Superior Courts of Washington are allowed to refuse a challenge during those four (4) years at will for any reason.
* SB 5997 would no longer allow that refusal so the correct man is named as the child’s father within those four (4) years.
 
3) This period is longer than most states.
* 5 other states have anti-paternity fraud laws also. Washington should become the sixth by passing Senate Bill 5997 and take that first step in ending legalized paternity fraud in Washington State.
 
4) We should keep a child-centered approach.
* Then lets give Washington State children a basic civil right to have a parental relationship with their birth fathers.
* Then lets no longer take a child from a loving parent without notice, consent or a finding of unfitness.
 
5) Parentage does not require a person to be the biological father.
* There is no reason why you cannot develop a healthy, loving relationship with a father figure in your own life and SB 5997 does not prevent that in any way. Nor does it require that a Father only be a biological one.
* A basic civil right to self, identity and a parental relationship with your birth father are basic human rights that I think we should all enjoy. Currently under Washington State law, we don’t. SB 5997 is a step forward in that direction that we should all be supporting.
* Father, Step-Father and Mom’s Boyfriend are three different things under Washington State law and family values. Men here are not interchangeable and disposable accessory items for a woman’s family unit. Please stop treating us that way.

Yes, I know what you’re probably thinking about now. “Dude, you shouldn’t hold back like that. Tell us how you really feel.” In my next blog post about SB 5997 I will do just that.

Comments made by Sen. Roach of the Senate Committee on Law & Justice during the bill hearing on Jan. 20th were particularly disturbing. And how exactly she can stress the importance of the child / father relationship on one hand while supporting the denial of that relationship on the other is a mystery I am still trying to untangle.

Sen. Pedersen seems to think the bill gives an unlimited amount of time to contest paternity even though it specifically says, “The petition must be filed within two years (2) after knowledge of facts indicating the man is not the child’s genetic father.” And when the state already has what amounts to unlimited power to enforce support orders, including against any chump who happens to be around at the time, he seems to think that isn’t enough.

Are you frigging kidding me?

So yeah. I’m sure that’ll get a few paragraphs. But it won’t all be rant and rave. Only mostly. I’ll also talk about other victims of paternity fraud in Washington and the hard work they have done to help make this Bill a reality. My ability to participate and support this bill is entirely due to them. And I cannot thank Sen. Jan Angel enough for sponsoring this Bill.

The legislative session this year is a short 60 days and is half way over. Please help pass SB 5997 by voicing your support on the Washington State website. Your message will be sent to every state legislator.

Comment on SB 5997

The members of Washington’s Senate Committee on Law & Justice are; Senators Mike Padden (R) Chair, Steve O’Ban (R) Vice Chair, Adam Kline (D), Jeannie Darneille (D), Kirk Pearson (R), Jamie Pederson (D), and Pam Roach (R).

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That will officially end this blog posting. My testimony before the Senate Committee on Law & Justice in Olympia Washington, Jan. 20th is below.

Thank you for reading.

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“The ends do not justify the means” (title not read)

I support Senate Bill 5997 and applaud the Sponsor, drafters and fellow supporters that have allowed it to be heard here today.

In October of 1998 I was served with notice from the court in Washington that I had been named as a putative father and submitted to the ordered DNA test the very next day. At that time our laws said we had 90 days to contest a paternity suit.

It took 87 days for me to get the test results that showed I was not a father in January of 1999. And even though the court in Spokane County had my test result it was still preparing to press a support order against me for a child it knew wasn’t mine. Simply because the mother wouldn’t tell the state where the actual father was. And even after I did.

Later in that year of 1999 the law was changed from 90 days to contest a paternity suit to only 20 days.

20 days.

If what had happened to me had only been a little bit later, I would of been 2 months into a default support order before I even received the test result to contest it with in the first place. And at that point nothing could be done about it no matter how many DNA tests I could show.

Washington State citizens now have 60 days to contest a paternity suit, or, until a scheduled court date. Which depending on circumstance, could mean as little as 1 day.

This in a state where it took almost 3 months for me to get a genetic test result from.

When the wrong man is named by our courts the first result is that the child’s actual father has his child taken from him by the state without a finding of unfitness. This is very wrong. Especially when it happens in the face of DNA testing that shows the error.

At the same time, the child is denied a relationship with it’s actual father or even knowing who he is. This is not in line with the family values I was raised with here in Washington State.

Today, 15 years after my experience, I would like to say that things are better but I cannot. If you refuse to pay a support order for a child that isn’t even yours you will be arrested, labeled a dead-beat Dad, and then thrown in prison.

Whether through mistake, omission or outright deception, when the incorrect person is determined to be the father of a child there is still no legal remedy.

Senate Bill 5997 provides that remedy by allowing the wrongly named father to terminate such an order and allows the court to then name the correct person as the father of a child. To date, there are five other states that allow such suits to go forward, and I am here today, to voice my support for Washington becoming the sixth.

Thank you

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The West Report

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