An Iowa man is being forced to pay child support on a 1-year-old baby that isn’t his because he never divorced his wife, although they’ve been separated for 16 years.
New York Daily News reports that Joe Vandusen of Davenport, Iowa, has been estranged from his wife since 1999. The pair had a two-year relationship, but after separating, they never filed for divorce. His wife, whose name is being protected for privacy reasons, had a son last year, allegedly from a one-night stand; a baby that Vandusen has never seen.
Last month, the Iowa Department of Human Resources sent Vandusen a letter, demanding child support payments for the child. Since Vandusen never officially divorced his wife, he’s legally bound to support her child.
“I was married to my ex a couple of years, but we didn’t see eye-to-eye, so we split up. They said since I’m still legally married, I’m going to be responsible for the child support.”
Vandusen never took a paternity test, but he stated he’s willing to take one as soon as possible to clear things up. He said that didn’t seem to matter. A representative with the human resources office reportedly told him that if he’s legally married, he’s responsible for child support.
“I explained to her this is not my child. I’m willing to do a paternity test and she flat out told me it does not matter, you’re legally married to her.”
In certain states, a law requires that people pay child support to babies born when a couple is married, regardless of paternity. In addition to Iowa, other states that adhere to this law include Alabama, Alaska, Michigan, and Texas.
According to Iowa Legal Aid, there are three ways people can stop the demanded child support payments on a child that isn’t theirs, through a process known as “disestablishing paternity.” The parent in question must first request genetic testing to prove the child in question isn’t theirs. They also need to file a case in court to establish the child isn’t biologically theirs. If a parent divorces, child support for the child ends as well.
Vandusen will need to hire an attorney, get a divorce, and proceed with a DNA test. He’s adamant that he doesn’t want to pay for a child that isn’t his. The child, according to Vandusen, is the result of a one-night stand with a man who didn’t want anything to do with the child.
“I’m 45 years old. I don’t need to be paying 18 years of child support for a child that’s not mine.”
Vandusen, who has two biological children of his own and helps support his girlfriend’s two children, was recently laid off from his job. He’s not only having difficulties paying child support for his estranged wife’s baby, but he also doesn’t have the money to get an attorney to help him with his case. He created a Crowdrise page to help raise $2,000 needed for his legal fees.
“I’d like to see my divorce get filed; I want the DNA test to prove I’m not the father, and then they’d drop the case against me…..Unless I come up with that magical $2,000 to pay the lawyer, I don’t know what I can do.”
In the meantime, Vandusen is hoping his fundraiser will also bring awareness to a child support law that he feels is ridiculous.
“My ultimate goal out of this is to get these laws looked at and changed.”
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