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Former Army Paratrooper Faces Paternity Fraud

U.S. Newswire, ATLANTA, Nov. 12, 2003

Former Army paratrooper, Walter "Buddy" Everhart, of Powder Springs, Ga., was married for fourteen years in a union that produced five children, or so he thought. After his divorce, his world was turned upside down when he learned that three, and possibly four, of the children he thought were his biologically, are not. DNA testing has conclusively proved it, according to the National Family Justice Association.

Everhart said, "I am shocked and hurt by this revelation, as anyone would be. Adding insult to injury, I had to file for bankruptcy and my second wife and little boy are suffering, too. How is it in the best interests of anyone for our family to go under financially trying to support another man's children, when we already know the truth?"

For years, 66 percent of Everhart's take home pay was sent to his ex-wife as child support. Adding to the financial hardship, Everhart, a Financial Software Consultant, was laid off in August.

Now Everhart faces a hearing on November 18, 2003, in Carrollton to determine whether he will still be legally forced to pay $2800 per month in child support for another man's children. If he is released, he will be the third man to have been released using the new Georgia paternity law that relieves men from future and past child support payments for children proven by DNA testing not to be theirs.

His legal battle thus far has not been easy. Everhart said, "Prior to the new paternity fraud law being enacted, the court listened to the testimony of my ex-wife and the bio-dad where they both admitted that I may not be the father of two of the children born during the marriage. The result was the court denied my motion for DNA testing and entered an order barring me from seeking testing under penalty of contempt and being thrown in jail."

In a hearing in June 2003, He presented a DNA test proving that the youngest child was not his biologically. Nevertheless, the judge told Everhart that he would not order testing on the remaining children.

"Buddy had to fight all the way to the Georgia Supreme court just to get the right to a DNA test and failed, " said Carnell Smith, executive director of the National Family Justice Association (NFJA). "This is no way to treat our military men, nor any human being. Unfortunately, military men nationwide are especially vulnerable to paternity fraud. This man served his country, and it shouldn't be this difficult for a veteran nor any man and his family to get justice," said Smith.

Carnell Smith, of Atlanta, was the driving force behind the landmark Georgia paternity fraud legislation that became law on May 9, 2002.

Everhart's attorney, Donald A. Weissman, Esq., said, "I am pleased that the legislature saw fit to provide a remedy for men whose companions have materially deceived them into believing that they are financially responsible for children when that is not the case. The tragedy is that by maintaining this deception the mother effectively destroys the relationship between the children and the deceived father; and totally deprives the children of knowing their biological father."

As his ex-wife wishes, Everhart has had no access to the children for 2 years although he has tried to be there for them.

Everhart said, "With the financial burden that I have been placed under by the courts for support, I barely have enough income left to feed my current family - my wife and my little boy, much less have any kind of meaningful visitation. Even though the DNA tests show that the children are not mine, I still love them. How can you unlove a child? It's a painful situation that affects me, the children and my entire family but there are other people that created the situation and they are escaping responsibility for their action."

"Somebody please warn our military men about paternity fraud," said Carnell Smith.