Non-biological father jailed for child support

July 18th, 2009 by Pelle Billing

Feminism has been pretty successful when it comes to implementing new laws that look out for women’s rights. Examples in the US include rape shield laws and the Violence Against Women Act, both of which can be questioned regarding their gender neutrality and gender fairness – even though the intention behind these laws were noble.

However, when it comes to men and men’s rights, the legal system still lags far behind. I’ve previously written about my proposal to DNA test all newborns, and to do away with the old fashioned laws that presume the husband of a woman to be the father, or that expect a man to accept fatherhood simply by trusting the woman.

Unfortunately, the legal system in the US (or elsewhere for that matter) still has to catch up on men’s rights and what’s best for the child, so we are still stuck with laws that determine paternity not through proper biological testing, but through probability. This means that some men raise children, or pay child support, even though it’s not their child to begin with.

Fortunately, there are commercial DNA tests available, which means that any man can test his child to see whether it truly is his child or not. You’d think that a DNA test that conclusively proves that you are not the father would be enough to release you from any paternal obligations, including child support, but apparently this is not the case in some US states.

Have a look at this article, that I just came across:

A South Georgia man who had been jailed for more than a year for not paying child support — even though he was not the biological father — was released from custody on Wednesday.

Come again? A man was jailed for not paying child support for a child that isn’t his?? There’s something rotten in the state of Georgia…

The judge, however, postponed deciding whether Hatley must still repay the more than $10,000 in child support the state says he owes.

In a sane world that decision would be a no-brainer. Either you find the real father and make him pay, or else you let the untrustworthy mother pay for her decision to make an innocent man pay her large sums of money.

Two DNA tests — one conducted nine years ago and another earlier this month — proved that Hatley was not the father of Travon Morrison, who is now 21. Even after learning he was not the father, Hatley paid thousands of dollars the state said he owed for support. After losing his job and becoming homeless, he still made payments out of his unemployment benefits.

This man is nothing short of a hero. In a society that couldn’t care less about his rights, he pays child support even when he’s unemployed, for a child that isn’t his to begin with!

Urgent legislative reforms are needed to prevent that this kind of scenario arise in the future. The most swift and fair solution is already out there: DNA test all newborns, to secure two adults who are responsible for the emotional and financial well-being of the child.

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9 Responses to “Non-biological father jailed for child support”

  1. Bonnie Says:

    What the courts looks at is the relationship between the the child. In California the former boyfriend, non-biological father of a child, was awarded custody over the mother.

    Where women should be liable for criminal penalty is naming someone as father they know couldn’t be….although that could be difficult to prove. Laws around paternity fraud should be strengthened.

    As far as mens rights? Please. As the crime stats show, it’s pretty much open season on women and children. Feel free to peruse dead kids listed by state, at


    Anyone who isn’t aware of misogyny in the courts and law enforcement just plain isn’t paying attention.

  2. Andrew Says:

    I think we often are careless in forgetting the biological father, who remains the father of the child even if he doesn’t live with his son. This is a primary relationship and the new man in the mother’s life shouldn’t adopt the child (who remains his father’s child) unless the real father dies. The child too is connected to his real father no matter what.

    I see making the man in the story pay, even though he may be the partner of the mother (and maybe the legal father of the child), as forgetting the real father and confusing matters. The child too will suffer from the burden of the obligation of this man.

  3. David Says:

    Nicely done once again, Pelle.

    That’s amazing that a judge could have ruled like that. Probably a fundamentalist. They are a little hostile toward science in general and don’t really know how to deal with it.

    Recently there was a similarly horrible decision where a convicted rapist in Alaska wanted to force the state to open the case and use DNA testing, which wasn’t available when he was tried, to prove his innocence. In forty-four states you have this right but not in Alaska, and he ended up suing for it–and, unbelievably, he lost the case in the Supreme Court, where Bush and Reagan nominees now dominate (it was a 5-4 vote).

    A lot of that has to do with fundamentalist attitudes about the U.S. Constitution as well as religious beliefs (states rights, role of the federal government, role of the courts, etc.).

    At any rate, it’s going to depend on the state and the particular judge how these things turn out in the U.S. to a large extent. After the Reagan and Bush administrations there are quite a few conservative judges, particularly in the south, probably.

    Bonnie, I am sure it occassionally happens that a woman gets the short end of the stick in court, but it may be these days that things have changed and that the man gets the short end of the stick more often.

    I think it’s interesting to look at violence toward children perpetrated by their parents. A U.S. government study in 1990 actually found that mothers are more likely not only to abuse their children but also to kill their children. The following are quotes from 3 articles, followed by links:


    “In 1990, a U.S. government study showed that woman are responsible for over 70% of all abuse suffered by children from their parents. Out of an estimated 826,000 victims of child maltreatment, nation-wide, 1,100 were fatalities. Their perpetrators break down as follows:


    31.5% Female Parent Only
    10.7% Male Parent Only *
    21.3% Both Parents *
    16.3% Female Parent and Other
    1.1% Male Parent and Other *
    4.5% Family Relative
    6.1% Substitute Care Provider(s)
    5.7% Other
    2.7% Unknown

    That means that, acting alone or with others, female parents were responsible in 69.1 percent, and male parents in 33.1 percent of cases of fatal child maltreatment.

    When acting with another person, woman murder their children at 16 times the rate men do. Most of these statistics came about when woman divorced or separated from their spouses — the children’s father — making divorce a very dangerous time for any child when considering the safety and well being of that child. This is something most American’s get exactly wrong when asked about their opinions. Many courts in many states have finally taken note of this and have realized during a divorce, the child is far safer with the father.”

    (more information about the study in the last link as this one doesn’t give good citations)


    “Other findings:

    – The high frequency of altruistic motives distinguish filicide

    from other homicides.

    – Crime statistics show that mothers are more rarely or more

    mildly punished for filicide than fathers.

    – Mothers kill children only, but men who kill their children

    are more likely to kill their wives.

    – Suicide or attempted suicide following the crime was also more

    likely with fathers.”


    “Approximately 40 percent of child victims were maltreated by their mothers acting alone; another 18.3 percent were maltreated by their fathers acting alone; 17.3 percent were abused by both parents (USDHHS, 2007).”

  4. Danny Says:

    As far as mens rights? Please. As the crime stats show, it’s pretty much open season on women and children. Feel free to peruse dead kids listed by state, at


    Anyone who isn’t aware of misogyny in the courts and law enforcement just plain isn’t paying attention.
    Are you trying to offer this as “proof” that the rights of men don’t need to be addressed or something (or are you one of those people that gets upset at the thought of men’s rights and MRAs)? No one said anything about women having it easy now that some their issues are being tended. I think Pelle is just trying to say that men need help too. Anyone who isn’t aware of misandry in the courts and law enforcement just plain isn’t paying attention.

  5. Jim Says:

    “As far as mens rights? Please. As the crime stats show, it’s pretty much open season on women and children. Feel free to peruse dead kids listed by state, at

    Oh, please. The murder rates for men flatten those for women. So do injury rates. Don’t even try. This is just damsel-in-distress posturing – as Patriarchal as a burka.

    As for “open season”, you are ignoring the legal system’s response to these crimes – crimes against women by men are routinely punished much more severely by the courts than are crimes by women agianst men, and this carries over into the time of commentary in the general public. It’s called the female sentencing discount, and it’s well-documented. In the most egregious case recently, Mary Winkler was let off scot free after a lame unsubstantiated claim of abuse, predictably by a mostly male jury, and then there is the sickening display of man-bashing bigotry surrounding McNair’s murder – people deflecting the discussion to his infidelity, away for the MURDER the girlfriend committed.

    And as for the deaths of children, I notice that you conveniently leave out who is committing those murders and all that abuse.

    Not really arguing in good faith, are you, Bonnie?

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  7. Edra Shumock Says:

    I just just like many other guys out there hate this system, it can have its mistakes… get behind a day and experience it just about all year long, literally.

  8. Blind People Says:

    This man is to be praised. He paid even though he was not the father. Doesn’t anyone out their get that if he is legally considered the Non-Biological Father, that this man had and wanted a relationship with this child. Falling on hard times can happen to any man or woman paying child support. The question is what does it benefit the child when a man stands up and says I am this child’s Non-Biological Father and want to be part of his life and support him, because I was in a relationship with his mother and formed a bond with this child, the question is why jail someone for non-payment. Seems the courts would have served both the child and the Non-Biological Father, by appointing him to a job, even as janitor at the court house. Than to jail him where he can not work. The courts don’t just go out and say hey your the Non-Biological Father Pay. Men who have helped raise children that are not their own have to fight in court at some point to be recognized as the Non-Biological Father. I’m sure in this case it was in better financial times for this man. As this type of case to establish Parental Rights as the Non-Biological Father are expensive cases for the Fathers to Fight. My educated opinion is this Man is a real Man and paid because regardless of sperm. He has taken the responsibility to be this child’s Father. A child he cared for and helped raise at some point. I hope this child knows that their was a real man that stood up for him, only to have the legal system spit in his face.

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