Just when I thought I had heard everything regarding divorce, custody, and support issues, this story reminds me that there are always new lows that opportunistic ex-spouses will stoop to in order to squeeze another dollar from a non-custodial parent. If there were an honest child support system anywhere in the
Man paid $20,000 in support for nonexistent child
The Associated Press
December 13, 2004
After Barreras was hauled into court, peppered with threats and demands for money for a child he adamantly denied fathering five years ago and even paid out $20,000 to support, his ex-wife was under a judge’s order to produce the child.
So last week, Viola Trevino picked up a 2-year-old girl and her grandmother off the street, promised them a trip to see Santa Claus and $50 and took the girl to court, alleging it was her daughter.
“I have seen hundreds of jury trials and I have never seen anything like this,” said Rob Perry, Barreras’ attorney.
It was the latest chapter in a bizarre case that has prompted Gov. Bill Richardson’s office to call for a full investigation. The elaborate ruse stretched over five years and involved fake DNA evidence, a forged Social Security number and birth and baptismal certificates, court records show.
Last week, state District Judge Linda Vanzi ruled the child did not exist.
After feeding the stand-in daughter and her grandmother hamburgers, it seems Trevino parked near the courthouse, where she left the grandmother in the car and took the child into court. Only when the grandmother followed her into court did Trevino admit that the child was not hers.
The 52-year-old Trevino announced to a family-court judge in December 1999 that she gave birth to a girl fathered by Barreras that September. Barreras, 47, who says he had a vasectomy in 1998, said it was impossible. The couple had two adult children, a son and a daughter. Paternity tests were ordered, and, in February 2001, Barreras was ordered to pay Trevino child support. Barreras continued to protest.
Trevino was ordered to bring in a birth certificate, but she did not.
Her adult daughter was even fired from a hospital after she was caught attempting to create documents pertaining to the birth of a Stephanie Trevino, according to court records. Then another DNA paternity test was ordered, this time done by a private doctor, but Trevino did not obey the court order and instead went back to the same company where the first test was done. Court records show that both DNA tests were done by a friend of the couple’s daughter.
Because of the DNA matches, Perry said the Child Enforcement Division of the state Human Services Department garnisheed Barreras’ paycheck , forcing him to pay child support.
“How can this happen? It is like a plane wreck caused by a cascading series of events,” he said. Betina Gonzales McCracken, spokeswoman for the department, said her agency is not to blame because the division was only enforcing a court order for payment of child support.
Now, I realize that this story is a couple of years old, but it is still ongoing. The ex-wife was ordered to pay back $15,000, has refused and, to make things worse, is demanding alimony payments! Gov. Richardson, who had promised to look into the matter and make sure that Mr. Barreras was refunded his money from the FOC, reneged on his offer. Apparently, even a sitting governor has no power when it comes to the misuse of power by an FOC office.
This is not the fault of a scheming ex-wife. This travesty of justice is the fault of a system that is either too lazy or motivated by its own internal financial concerns to check into claims of fraud designed to bilk ex-husbands out of their money. I have had my own problems in the past with FOC agents and bureaucrats and their response to claims of fraud, even with irrefutable proof of such fraud, is generally a cold, numbing silence. They simply refuse to enforce honesty in the system. If the system was balanced, without automatically favoring women over fathers or men, then the presumption of her claims would have fallen flat as soon as Mr. Barreras refuted them.
The true test of fairness and balance and the prevailing attitudes among FOC officials that oppose this balance can be seen in the overwhelming opposition of FOC staff, judges, divorce lawyers, women’s groups, and even prosecutors to the various forms of the Shared Parenting Bill. Their excuse for not allowing fathers equal time are based in two fallacies. First, if the court allows equal time from the get go, then abusive fathers with not be weeded out and the children will not be protected. What? If the father is abusive, the mother should prove it to the court, rather than assume that he must be abusive because she says so. This stupid excuse proves my point that the courts, in spite of the mounting evidence to the contrary, don’t believe that a woman would ever lie when it comes to her children. (Remember Susan Smith?)
Second, opponents of shared parenting think that the only reason a man would want 50% custody of his child is to avoid paying child support. This theory defies all logic and shows the capricious and vicious nature of the FOC. If a man has his child for half the year, then he is already supporting that child i.e. feeding, clothing, housing, etc. while the child is in his care. Their claim makes not one lick of sense, unless there is something else going on behind the scenes that has nothing to do with supporting children, but rather supporting the system that collects the support and the lawyers who make millions of dollars litigating such contentious matters as support and visitation.
Want to know why the system isn’t being fixed? Think about who stands to lose from reform. Clue: It’s not the Dads.