Friday, July 13, 2007

Another One That Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

In yet another example of our broken legal system, we have the case of the Florida man who is being forced to financially support another man's child:
Francisco Rodriguez owes more than $10,000 in back child support payments in a paternity case involving a 15-year-old girl who, according to DNA results and the girl's mother, is not his daughter.

Rodriguez, who is married with two daughters and a son from his wife's previous marriage, is fighting for leniency. "It's not right. I'm not the father, " he said at a recent court hearing.

He says he knew nothing about the other girl until paperwork showed up about four years ago saying he was the father.

He now has DNA results that show the 15-year-old girl wasn't fathered by him. He even has an affidavit from the girl's mother -- a former girlfriend from 1990 -- saying he's "not the father" and asking that Rodriguez no longer be required to pay child support.

Yet the state of Florida is continuing to push him to pay $305 a month to support the girl, as well as the more than $10,000 already owed. He spent a night in jail because of his delinquent payments.

Why is he in such a bind?

He missed the deadline to legally contest paternity. That's because, he says, the paperwork didn't reach him until after the deadline had passed.

"It's like you're drowning every day," says Rodriguez, a massage therapist.

Rodriguez's odyssey began in 1990, when he says at age 16 he had a four- to five-month relationship with a woman CNN is not identifying. He says when the relationship ended, he did not hear from her again until child support papers arrived at his home in 2003.

"My wife and I both had a confused look, and we're wondering, 'Where is the DNA test?' " he says.

But it was long past Florida's deadline to contest paternity. A court had already named him the father three years before when he did not respond to notices to appear, notices he says he never received because he had moved a lot.

He was now on the hook for monthly child support, as well as $10,623 in back child support.

He eventually paid for DNA testing. The test showed he was not the father.

A judge has now ordered a court-sanctioned DNA test for Rodriguez and the 15-year-old girl. Rodriguez has taken that test; the girl and her mother did not show up for their appointment to submit to DNA testing and it's unclear if the girl has complied.

CNN has repeatedly tried to contact the mother, but has been unable to reach her.

Rodriguez and his family continue to wait for answers.

"It's hard when your daughter needs sneakers and you have to pay $305 or your husband goes to jail," said Rodriguez's wife, Michele. "It's just unfair."
Where's the justice for this man?

Heh. Maybe President Bush will give Rodriguez a pardon
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