Domestic Violence or Paternity Fraud?
January 10, 2005, Townhall, U.S.A.
A judge in Spokane Washington declined a woman's request for a divorce. Her husband did not object to the divorce, and her husband is in jail for assaulting her. Naturally, women's advocates are in a tizzy.
women's advocates worry the ruling sets an unsettling precedent.
"This is a woman in domestic violence asking to get out of the relationship," said Hughes' attorney, Terri Sloyer. "We're telling abusers that if you can get her pregnant you can keep her married to you."
On what grounds would the judge deny the divorce? The woman is now 7 months pregnant, a fact that she did not disclose during the divorce proceedings. Evidently, she didn't bother to tell her husband of her pregnancy. She says that her husband is not the father of the child. Rather she became involved with a childhood friend, who now happens to be in Spokane County Jail awaiting trial on a federal drug charge.
The judge is miffed because she did not inform her husband that she was pregnant. As in most states, under Washington state law, an ex-husband is presumed to be the father of any child born up to 300 days after a divorce and can be liable for child support. The judge told the woman:
"You needed to serve him and give him notice that his rights as a father or as a non-father were being determined in that matter. It wasn't done."
The husband might have had a different attitude toward the divorce, had he known of her pregnancy.
"Further muddying the waters is Shawnna Hughes' reliance on public assistance. The state of Washington objected to the divorce because it might leave the state unable to identify a father and pursue him for repayment of welfare money used to support the child."
Was this woman deliberately trying to pin this child on her ex-husband, rather than on her boyfriend, in order to saddle the husband with child support? We can't know her motives from reading the newspaper. But considering that she seems to have several lawyers around her helping with her appeals, it does seem odd that no one went through the proper procedures for establishing paternity.
This judge has a legitimate point. The woman is not in any danger of being abused by this man: he is in jail, and she has a restraining order against him, whether she stays married to him or not!
The precedent this judge is setting is to put women on notice that they can not take a cavalier attitude toward establishing the paternity of their children.
Does anyone in cyberspace know any more about this case? It seems to me there is more than meets the eye, especially, the jaundiced feminist eye, that only sees injustice against women, but is blind to any injustice to men.