All Woman

Mom, child in the US want support from dad in Jamaica

Margarette MACAULAY

Monday, July 15, 2019

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Dear Mrs Macaulay,

I reside in the USA and my daughter's dad resides in Jamaica. How do I obtain a declaration of paternity form so I can get him to do a paternity test to prove he is the father of my child and start having him contribute to her well-being? Because I reside overseas, apparently he and his family think it's okay [for me] to not get support.

Can I get Uncle Sam involved and have his visa revoked? I just need him to acknowledge his responsibilities and do his part.

I have noted the contents of your letter and I understand the position in which you and your daughter have found yourselves. You have neither stated your daughter's age nor how long you both have been residing in the United States of America. It is clear though that the man you refer to as her father has not acknowledged his paternity, and does not appear in her birth records at all.

This is why you are asking how you can obtain a declaration paternity form so that he can be made to do a paternity test. Well dear mother, no such thing exists.

Only a court can make an order for a paternity test to be done and with input from him about his position regarding such a test. This means that you must make arrangements for an application to be prepared and filed for a declaration of paternity to be made against the putative father, who will be named as the respondent to the application and who must be served with it and your affidavit in support, which would contain your assertions of fact for identifying him as the father of your child. So, you must retain a lawyer to act for you in this regard.

There are a number of points which must be contemplated and checked before an application can be filed on your behalf. The first, which is glaringly obvious, is the question of how you got to the USA with your daughter without clearly having an order of sole legal custody made by a court in your favour, and one for you to have care and control of her.

Did the putative father sign a consent? If not, I strongly suggest that you add an application for sole custody and care and control and for maintenance to your application for the declaration of paternity, so that your taking the child out of this jurisdiction — if done without his consent — is legalised.

I must say that it occurred to me to wonder why you did not deal with this entire situation before you left to reside elsewhere.

Another point to consider and ascertain is whether there is a Reciprocal Treaty (agreement) between Jamaica and the state in which you reside in the US. If there's none, even if you succeed in obtaining the declaration of paternity, sole custody and care and control and maintenance orders (for which you also must apply to the Court and obtain its order), none would be enforceable against him where you reside. For them to be enforceable, there must be a Reciprocal Agreement and arrangements between your resident state and Jamaica.

You ask whether you can take steps to have his visa revoked because he is not providing support for your daughter. If you make any such attempt you will just be acting out of a desire for vengeance, when you have no grounds for taking any such step against him.

After all, you only have an allegation that he is your child's father. This is why he is referred to in law as a putative father. You have to prove your allegation in a court of law by making your application for declaration of paternity and during which he may admit that he is the father of your daughter. If he does not, it will be ordered that a DNA test be done.

Since your daughter is with you in the USA, the court will also direct how the test should be done and who should meet the respective costs. The results will be sent to the court, after which, if positive, the declaration of paternity will be made and if you did follow my suggestions to apply for legal sole custody, care and control and maintenance, the judge would then proceed to deal with those and make such orders as are deemed appropriate, based on the evidence produced by you and the respondent.

I suggest that you take the proper steps that you should have taken before you left here with your daughter, in order to make legally sure that your daughter's legal status is regularised and that she enjoys all the rights to which she is entitled.

Best wishes to you both.

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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