An Oklahoma man is being forced to pay child support for another man’s child because he requested a paternity test too late.
Thomas Coleman married his high school girlfriend when she became pregnant several years later, his marriage fell apart and he decided to take a paternity test for his three-year-old son.
That’s when he discovered the child was not his.
“It comes back zero percent. I was in my office and I saw that. I should’ve expected it but I didn’t and it hit me. I’m telling my co-worker how shocked I am that someone could do this to someone,” said Thomas.
He then took a court-ordered second test, and again the test came up negative. In spite of this, a judge ordered Thomas to pay child support because under an Oklahoma law called the Law of the Presumed Father, states that a presumed father becomes the legal father under the law, unless he can disprove his paternity within two years of the child’s birth.
He was ordered to pay $15,000 in back support and an additional $454.06 a month to his ex-wife to support a child with which he has no blood connection.
Thomas said he had no reason to question whether or not he was the father before he did. He’d like to see lawmakers change the law. He believes DNA matters regardless of when a man learns he’s not the father of a child, especially if the man was lied to. He said there’s no way for him to appeal the ruling.
“At this point, there’s really nothing I can do to get out of the $15,000 or get out of the child support,” he said. “It’s done, it’s the law.”
The Oklahoma law predates DNA testing and critics claim that it is in violation of the US Constitution, as the spouse is “guilty” of fatherhood and must prove himself “innocent.” They say it also violates the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which stipulates that every child has a fundamental right to a relationship with their biological parents.
Oklahoma is one of the few places on Earth where the Law of the Presumed Father is in effect.