‘My one night stand is still costing me.’
That was the headline of a recent story for News Corp, about a man named Patrick, who met a woman on Facebook in 2010, slept with her, and found out 12 weeks later she was pregnant. “There’s something seriously wrong with this outdated system,” he said, referring to the child support he was ordered to pay for a son he’s never met. “I’ve given up.”
The story was told with the aim of showing that Australian law, which requires a biological father pay child support until a child is 18, is flawed.
“I felt like she’d planned it,” Patrick said, referring to the moment his one night stand told him she was pregnant.
Patrick thinks current child support schemes don’t make sense in “modern society where many relationships don’t last”. He doesn’t believe he should be paying for this child. He says a huge number of second relationships fail because of the pressure of child support issues.
Now, consider Jenny.
Jenny is an anecdote – I haven’t sighted legal documents that support Jenny’s story, and Jenny isn’t here to tell her story in her own words.
But we all know a Jenny.
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Jenny was married in her late twenties and had four children. When her youngest was two, her partner left. Let’s call him Bob. Bob entered a relationship with another woman.
From the moment Bob left, Jenny has struggled to get Bob to provide fair child support payments. When she needs before and after school care because she’s working full time, Bob refuses to contribute. He isn’t forced to, because according to the Child Support Agency (CSA) it doesn’t “directly benefit” him.
When her eldest wants to play soccer, Jenny pays for the fees, the uniform, the oranges at half time, and the petrol to get him there. Same goes for piano lessons, tutoring, and private schooling if she wants it for her kids.
Jenny has to go to court a number of times to challenge Bob’s refusal to pay for certain aspects of his children’s upbringing. It’s painstaking and time-consuming, and has nothing to do with financial hardship on Bob’s side. He just genuinely doesn’t feel that these kids are his responsibility. He has a new family now.