Three years ago, a Maine court ruled that Geoffrey Fisher no longer had to pay child support for a child that wasn't his. But Maine nevertheless demands that Fisher pay $11,450 in back child support and Maine took away his drivers license for failure to pay.
The Bradley debt makes no allowance for the growing problem of paternity fraud committed by mothers, estimated by some to be up to 30 percent of DNA-tested cases. Our compassionate government demands that a mother seeking welfare identify the father of her child and, like greedy lawyers, greedy women often target the man with the deepest pockets.
A few states have passed a recent law to end so-called child support if DNA proves a man is not the father, but that doesn't get rid of the Bradley debt accrued before DNA results came in. We haven't heard of any women being prosecuted for paternity fraud, and of course the man who was cheated doesn't get any refund.
There is no excuse for Congress and state legislatures allowing these injustices to continue. Court-ordered child support should not be final until DNA proves paternity.
Feminist defenders of the Bradley Amendment claim that the Bradley debtor could have reduced his debt by going into court and challenging the amount of support when his income decreased. That argument is legalistic cynicism taken to the extreme.
Most Bradley debtors cannot afford a lawyer to advise them about and to defend their rights, yet they are up against government or government-paid lawyers; the system has built-in incentives to set the support as high as possible because collections bring bonuses to the state bureaucracy; and, according to the Los Angeles Times, roughly 70 percent of fathers in Los Angeles County are not present when the court (not biology) rules on paternity and irreducible monthly obligations are set in concrete.
President George W. Bush's initiative to promote marriage is a non-starter so long as the Bradley Amendment exists. Who would marry a man with a Bradley debt hanging over his future?
Shakespeare famously wrote, "The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones." Since the author of the Bradley Amendment, former Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.J., is still alive, he should tell his pals in the Senate to terminate his evil law before any more injustices take place.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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