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"Federal Money Drives Paternity Fraud"
By Robert Franklin, fathers'-rights lawyer.
Women Against Paternity Fraud: Federal Money Drives Paternity Fraud
August 19, 2015 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
The organization, Women Against Paternity Fraud, has recently come out with a series of educational videos. This is their best yet. It's hard-hitting, concise and packed with information about the big business that is paternity fraud in the United States. Put simply, it's all about money. Follow the dollars and the resulting policies come as no surprise.
Narrator Dianna Thompson begins with perhaps the most telling of the historical facts about paternity fraud. In 2002, the California Legislature passed a law called the California Paternity Justice Act that would have required the state to get the right man when establishing paternity. But despite its passage by the legislature, then-Governor Gray Davis vetoed it. Why? Because, had he signed it into law, the state stood to lose some $40 million a year in federal funds.
When a woman receives benefits under the federal welfare program called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, federal law strongly encourages states to require her to identify the father of her children. That's because, once he's identified, the state is required to get reimbursement from him of the TANF funds paid to her.
So, the more fathers the state identifies, the more money can be recouped and the happier the federal government is. Unsurprisingly, Washington offers states hefty rewards for paternity establishment and serious penalties for failing to do so. Thompson informs viewers that the federal government places a 90% threshold on states for paternity establishment. Fall below that threshold and states face financial penalties and requirements that they upgrade paternity establishment rates. Meet or exceed that level and Washington sends more money.
So the California Paternity Justice Act would have improved the lives of countless men and children in the Golden State, but, when balanced against the potential money lost, Davis had little difficulty deciding whether to sign the bill or kill it. Obviously, any legal requirements that made establishing paternity more difficult or time-consuming threatened the state's ability to meet its federally-mandated target. In so doing, it risked reducing cash flow.
In case anyone missed the point, Davis made it clear saying the bill "would directly impact child support collections" and "jeopardize California's ability to meet federal child support measures."
But surely there's nothing wrong with establishing who a child's father is, right? After all, don't we want as many fathers involved in their children's lives as possible? So what's the problem with the federal government encouraging states to do just that? And what does any of that have to do with paternity fraud?...
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