Do you think it is fair for a rape victim to have to pay child support in Pennsylvania? If you said, “No,” many people would probably agree with you — but the courts in Arizona might have a different take on the matter. A troubling case involving a rape victim’s child support requirements in that state is now making headlines, even as the victim’s bank account is being garnished each month for overdue support payments.
The victim in this case was 14 years old when he had sex with a 20-year-old woman. Under state law, children younger than 15 are not able to legally consent; as a consequence, that man was considered a rape victim. The man then went on to graduate high school and college, starting a lucrative career as a medical assistant.
That is when his universe was turned upside down.
Two years ago, the man received notification that the woman was seeking child support for their 6-year-old daughter. The letter from the state was the first time that the man had heard that he even had a child. Now, he is facing some $15,000 in overdue child support, along with interest. The man in this case attributes the large amount to the fact that he was afraid of filing the required legal documents — and he never obtained a paternity test. Now, he is fighting a legal battle, arguing that he should not be required to pay child support for the years that he was still a child himself.
Although this is a relatively unusual child support situation, it illustrates the complexity of many family law cases in Pennsylvania and other states. Questions related to statutory rape should be answered in state child support guidelines; victims should not necessarily be forced to pay after they are violated. Even though raising a child is an expensive endeavor, parents’ rights need to be preserved, as well.
Source: USA Today, “Statutory rape victim forced to pay child support” Alia Beard Rau, Sep. 02, 2014