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Procedural flaws can lead to unfair support conditions

When we are children, a lot of emphasis is put on what’s fair. Even a pick-up game of basketball on a neighborhood court in Lafayette comes with an expectation that the basic rules of the game are in force. The understanding is so clear that whistles are needed.

It would be nice to think that the same would apply to family law. But the game of life and fighting for rights under family law statutes is a lot more complicated. Very often, what seems obviously fair to one person might be deemed unfair by someone else. The court might have yet another opinion. In the end, it’s the court’s call. While the appeals process offers the chance at a do-over, there are no guarantees.

Fathers’ rights and paternity obligations can become a place of real complication in family law, as a story out of Colorado serves to show.

The claim being made by a man in Denver is that it’s not fair that he is required to continue paying child support for a 15-year-old daughter he has not been allowed to see in four years. The fact that DNA tests done when the girl was 11 prove she isn’t his child would only seem to bolster his argument.

The man’s first approach to the court to present his argument and evidence got thrown out because he represented himself and didn’t follow proper court procedures. When he retained a lawyer and tried again, the judge said he’d lost his chance to introduce his DNA findings.

The girl’s mother says she’d forgo the child support payments if her ex-husband gave up his parental rights. Legal observers say that likely wouldn’t work because there’s no other person in the wings ready to fill the gap. So, in the best interest of the child, the judge is maintaining the status quo.

The key lessons from this case would seem to be these. First, just because you have an obvious case doesn’t mean you’ll get the outcome you want. Second, if you plan to enter the legal playing field, you must know the rules and proper protocol. Training and direct experience is how that knowledge is gained and why a skilled attorney is always advised.

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