Fiancée worried babymother ripping off her man

Margarette MACAULAY

Monday, June 17, 2019

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Dear Mrs Macaulay,
Could you please tell me how much, exactly, a father would have to pay in child maintenance per week for a child (three months old)? My fiancé was out fixing something on his car one morning, when a friend of his saw him and they started talking. The friend said he saw my fiancé's ex the other day, and she said she had a baby and the father is my fiancé.

My fiancé did not know she was even pregnant, and he was totally shocked. Nonetheless, he went to her place the same day he found out and she said the child was his. She gave him no good reason why she hid the pregnancy from him or why she did not tell him she had a baby. From then he just took her word that the child is his and gave her regular child maintenance every week.

He is a labourer and he gives her $5,000 every week, but she is now making trouble with him to pay more. Last Christmas, he gave her $15,000 for his child's Christmas.

A few days after that she was asking for more money and when he asked her what she had done with the money he gave her for the child, she said she did not know it was for him.

This woman is being greedy and unreasonable, which is why I want to find out if there is a set amount that fathers have to pay for each child?

 

It is clear that you are very concerned about the sudden insertion of a baby into the life of your husband-to-be, and the fact that when he learned that his ex had given birth to a child and was asserting that he was the father, he immediately took responsibility for the child by providing the weekly sum of $5,000 for maintenance of the baby. You are also concerned that after he gave the babymother $15,000 for the child last Christmas, she demanded more money from him a few days later; and upon his asking her what had happened to all he gave for the child, she responded that she did not know it was for the baby.

This is clearly very concerning, as implicit in her answer is the fact that she had taken that sum for herself. She is clearly not to be trusted fully.

I hope your fiancé has been obtaining receipts from her of the monies he has been providing. He is entitled to demand receipts for any monies he gives to her, and they must state that the sums are for the maintenance of the named child and contain the date of his handing the money over and her signature. If she refuses to sign the receipt, which I suggest he goes with already written out and so she just has to sign it — get a receipt book, he should then tell her he will not give her the money unless she signs.

You also say she is asking for more money, which I assume means she wishes an increase of the weekly sum of $5,000 he has been giving her. This is also very worrying, and I think you are very sensibly worried about the situation.

Before I answer your actual question, I want to mention a number of things your fiancé should have done and should still do so that you can both be certain, in your minds, about the paternity of this child, and to ensure a legal and reasonable sum for the baby's maintenance if it does turn out that he is indeed the biological father. I must also advise him what to do for the child in such circumstance, and also what he can do if the child is proved not to be his. This I believe to be necessary for your life together, to have the best chance of happiness by the removal of the doubts which would invariably lead to arguments between you and feelings of resentment. He must act to give your future happiness the best chance.

So here we go:

• He should have a DNA test done. If she refuses, he would be entitled to draw his own conclusions from this. This is permissible in law. There would be no cause for her to refuse unless she is not, in fact, sure of the paternity of the father. He should do this as soon as possible before the child gets older. Such matters ought to be settled before the child in question becomes old enough to be aware that the man who used to come around and make a fuss about him is no longer doing so.

• Upon obtaining the result of the DNA test, if it shows he is the father, he should get a copy of the child's birth certificate and apply to the Family Court for a Declaration of Paternity and an order for maintenance, so that everything can be regularised. This is so his name and particulars can be entered in the birth records and on the certificate, and the court will decide on how much he should provide for the child. The court would take into account what he can afford and still provide for himself and his other dependants. The court would also consider that requirement in law for the mother to also provide maintenance for her child, as the law requires both parents to provide maintenance for their child or children.

• If the results show that he is not the father, then he will have to decide whether or not to take legal action against her for the falsity of the claim she made against him, and for a refund of the monies she has received from him, which was actually by way of fraud.

Your fiancé must act responsibly and ensure that he obtains the real facts, because the way the babymother conducted herself by, in the first place, never telling him that she was pregnant and then not telling him when the child was born and he had become a father, and he only found out through hearsay (a friend telling him that she said he was the father), all raise questions about her veracity. He, therefore, must use the avenues which the law provides to be sure about the facts and his obligations, if any.

Additionally, though there is no set amount a father must provide as maintenance for his child, the court takes certain matters into account when considering what is reasonable for a father to provide. It also takes into account the fact that the mother also has an equal obligation in law, just as he does, to provide for her child. The court must decide what the child reasonably needs, and divide the total sum between the parents.

The court will not make a maintenance order against any man when the question of paternity is undetermined. This must be determined either by the admission of the man or by way of a DNA test, which it will order to be done.

So please convince your fiancé to do the sensible thing for all concerned — yourselves and especially the child — before he gets much older. He should not leave matters so there is doubt and so that the babymother is the one who decides how much money he should give the child — this will just ensure that he is constantly harassed by her and create upset, anger and resentment in him and you, and no peace in your relationship. This will not be good for the innocent child.

He must let the court decide. This is why the laws are there, to be used by individuals like him who find themselves in the position he has been placed in because of the questionable conduct of the mother of the child.

He should do what's necessary for all involved to obtain the protection of the law, so that your future lives will have at least certainty about the status of this child and that of your fiancé, and peace of mind for the future.

Good luck.

 

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 allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com ; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.

 

DISCLAIMER:

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.


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