Dear Mrs Macaulay,
I have a teenage son whose dad left us from before he was even born. I understand that he resides somewhere in Canada, and is married with two kids. Is there an agency, or can I get some form of advice on how to proceed with getting some form of child support for him?
Please note that his name is not on the birth certificate because he left before my son was born, but he is, without the slightest doubt, 100 per cent the father of my son.
I have noted the contents of your letter and I am constrained to point out that you did a great disservice to your son and also to yourself when you failed, upon reporting the birth of your son, to give the registrar taking the particulars the name of your baby's father.
The reason he is not on your son's birth certificate is not because he had left you before your son was born, but because you neglected to give his name as the father of your child. The law provides that when a father is not around to admit to his fatherhood and give his own particulars, the registrar can take certain actions in the circumstances. The best thing clearly is for more particulars than the father's name to be on the birth certificate, and the registrar's office makes great efforts to convince fathers to do the right thing and ensure that the entire section related to “Father” is filled in by the information supplied by them. It is a child's right for the father to do this, and if the father does not, then the mother should at least give his name, so that at least this will appear on the certificate and the child will have his rightful name.
Since you did not do this, your son does not even have on his certificate a name for his father. Yes, the man abandoned his paternity even before his child was born, but he could have been named as father as so many other men have been named over the years. “Child support” is not the only thing your son has been deprived of and left without. What of his human rights? His right to his true identity? His right to know and be with his family?
To go forward, you would have to find this man, who you say is 100 per cent the father of your son. Unfortunately, the law requires more than your stated certainty of fact. It requires proof that he is indeed the father of your son by way of a DNA test.
Your first hurdle would be to find him before anything else can be done, and you must do so and get your proof before your son attains his 18th birthday. There are, of course, investigating agencies you can contract with to search for him, and/or those who do online searches, but either course would cost a pretty penny.
You have not stated your son's age, but will you be able to explain to a court why you did not give his father's name at the reporting of his birth, and also why you waited all these years before trying to find him? I think that your reason should be not only getting child support, but to bring father and son together, so that your child can have his rightful name and develop a relationship with his father. Then you can begin the quest to ensure that the father makes some provision for him.
For any or all of these, you must have court orders based on your applications made to the court and proving your claims. But remember that this must be after the man has been found and proved by a DNA test to be your son's father.
You could try perhaps to seek help from the Jamaican Consulate in Canada about his whereabouts and also check with the Child Development Agency to ask whether they can assist you.
I do wish you had acted earlier, but I wish you and your son the very best of luck in your quest.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.