Virtual Library of Newspaper Articles

Court backs dad, ends kid support

Payments dropped, arrearages eliminated

The Detroit News, U.S.A., by Kim Kozlowski, March 24, 2006

Fathers paying child support for children who are not biologically theirs were cheering Thursday for Doug Richardson, who went to court and got his child support payments stopped and what he owes wiped out.

Still, Richardson said his fight is not over. He will continue to work to get laws in Michigan changed.

"It's a good step in the right way for others in the court system," Richardson said, "but I have a road ahead of me, working with (lawmakers)."

Richardson paid an estimated $80,000 in child support over 15 years to his ex-wife even though a DNA test showed their first son was not his. Richardson said he paid support to his ex-wife while she lived with the child's biological father and then later to the biological father when the couple split up.

During the 2 1/2 hour court hearing on Thursday, Richardson's attorney, Michele Kelly, negotiated with attorney Robert J. Dunn, who represented Richardson's ex-wife, Bonnie Lauria. Dunn said Lauria wanted peace of mind for her family, and agreed to dismiss the child support.

"He doesn't have to pay because I said enough," said Lauria, 42, of Bay City. "He's had my children on the TV so many times. It was ridiculous. I don't make the laws. It's not my fault. I am glad it's over."

Richardson was planning to represent himself in court but Kelly, of Northville, offered to represent him after reading about his plight in The Detroit News.

He was a father for less than five years when he learned his son wasn't his biological child. Richardson got married when he was 19 after his then-girlfriend wife told him she was pregnant with his child. The couple had a second son during the marriage who is Richardson's.

Richardson learned before their divorce that another man was the father of the first son, which DNA tests confirmed in 1992. A man becomes a legal father in Michigan when he is married to the mother at conception or birth or signs a voluntary affidavit of parentage, typically at the hospital when the child is born, said Marilyn Stephen, director of the Office of Child Support in the Michigan Department of Human Services.

Richardson's victory was good news to Michael Williams, a Detroit dad who is obligated to pay child support for seven children, five of whom are not his.

"Maybe the same thing can happen to me," Williams said.

Bills in Michigan's Legislature designed to give relief in such cases include one from state Rep. Lamar Lemmons III, D-Detroit, that would require courts to withdraw child support orders when DNA tests prove that men aren't the biological father. At least 12 other states have passed similar laws.

Fathers will need to lobby lawmakers because even though Thursday was a victory for Richardson, the issue of paternity fraud was not addressed, said Murray Davis, an advocate for fathers who was at the hearing.

Lemmons said he hopes Richardson's case will spur his fellow lawmakers to take action.

Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem

Fatherlessness in America

by David Blackenhorn

Nearly one in 10 girls and one in 20 boys say they have been raped or experienced some other form of abusive violence on a date, according to a study released Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.

REPORT: Children Need Dads Too: Children with fathers in prison

Quakers United Nations Office
July 2009

Children are heavily impacted by parental imprisonment and greater attention should be given to their rights, needs and welfare in criminal justice policy and practice. Due to a variety of reasons such as mothers often being the primary or sole carer of children, complicated care arrangements, the likelihood of women prisoners being greater distances from home and a host of factors explored in detail in other QUNO publications, maternal imprisonment can be more damaging for children than paternal imprisonment. However, it is important not to underestimate the damage that paternal imprisonment can have on children.

Children with incarcerated fathers experience many of the same problems as those with incarcerated mothers, including coping with loss, environmental disruption, poverty, stigmatisation, health problems and all of the difficulties involved in visiting a parent in prison. It appears that there are also some difficulties specifically associated with paternal imprisonment, such as a higher risk of juvenile delinquency and strained relationships between the mother and child.

The numbers of children separated from their fathers due to imprisonment is far higher than those separated from their mothers due to the vast majority of prisoners being men (globally over 90 per cent of prisoners are male. To ignore this group would, therefore, be to neglect the vast majority of children affected by parental imprisonment.    Read More ..

USA_Today logo

Hammering it home: Daughters need dads

USA TODAY, June 10, 2003

It's widely recognized that boys benefit from having dads around as role models and teachers about manhood.

But does having a father at home make much difference for girls?

But even in affluent families, girls become sexually active and pregnant earlier if they don't live with fathers, according to the largest and longest-term study on the problem. It was released in May.

Compared with daughters from two-parent homes, a girl is about five times more likely to have had sex by age 16 if her dad left before she was 6 and twice as likely if she stops living with her dad at 6 or older.

The study of 762 girls for 13 years took into account many factors that could lead to early sex, says Duke University psychologist Kenneth Dodge, the study's co-author. Still, there was an independent link between teenage sex and girls not living with their biological fathers.

Divorced Dads:
Shattering the Myths

Dr. Sandford L. Braver and Diane O'Connell

picture book Divorced dads: Shattering the Myths

This is the result of the largest federally funded 8 year study of the issues confronting parents and their children in the United States.

Shattering the Myths. The surprising truth about fathers, children and divorce.

Sydney Morning Herald

Children seeing more of their fathers after divorce

The Sydney Morning Herald
February 3, 2005

Divorced fathers are Read More ..volved in their children's lives than conventional wisdom would have it, a new study shows.

It shows surprisingly varied and flexible care patterns among separated families, with "every other Saturday" contact giving way to Read More ..ild-focused arrangements.

Australian Institute of Family Studies research fellow Bruce Smyth has produced the first detailed snapshot of parent-child contact after divorce anywhere in the world. Published today in the institute's journal Family Matters, the analysis has implications for children's emotional and financial wellbeing.

Other research indicates children of separated families do best when they have multifaceted relationships, including sleepovers, sharing meals and doing schoolwork, with both parents.


Fathers 'have key role with children' after families split

The Telegraph, London, U.K.

Researchers say they found a direct relationship between children's behavioural problems and the amount of contact they had with their natural father.

The effect was more pronounced in single-parent families, particularly where the mother was a teenager. In such cases, children were especially vulnerable emotionally if they had no contact with their father.

Where's Daddy?

The Mythologies behind Custody-Access-Support


When 50 percent of marriages end in divorce and 43 percent of children are left with one parent, everyone is affected: uncles, aunts, grandparents, and friends, but mostly, the children. The devastation from our divorce practices is our most public secret scandal. Everyone whispers it, the whispers never acknowledged. It seems that as long as a villain can be created, society is content.

After three decades of research universally pointing to more productive options, why does Custody-Access-Support remain?

Tallahasse Democrat

Research proves that fatherhood really matters