Monday, December 22, 2014

Is He The Father, Or Is She A Scam Artist?

Dear Tazi:

I met my husband of four years in church.  Like many people, he had a "past" and had come to the Church seeking forgiveness and renewal.  While we were dating, "Thomas" informed me of his loose behaviors and assured me that he was a changed man.  His commitment to me and to God are truly astounding, and I know that my husband is now as pure a man as a human can possibly be; I have long since accepted his past, as I know it led him to becoming the man he is today.

We have been trying to conceive for two years, and have realized that children are probably not in our future.  After much soul-searching and prayer, we had come to accept this idea when out of the blue a woman from Thomas' past contacted him and informed him that he is the father of her twelve year old son; that the boy has become an out of control "punk" and that she can no longer handle him by herself.  She demanded that Thomas "man up" and be a father to his child - starting with twelve years of back child support payments.

Tazi, we were both surprised to hear that Thomas has a son, and are more than happy to make him a part of our family, especially after giving up all hope of ever having children; however, we are not in a position to pay twelve years of back child support for a child we only just found out existed!  Thomas is angry that this woman from his past never contacted him before now, and is justifiably upset and feeling like his son was stolen from him by this woman, who had been a one night stand.  In all fairness, Thomas says he never gave out his phone number to women he "hooked up with" back then.

When Thomas asked how this woman had found him, she responded that she had tracked him down through Facebook and that she had been searching for him for years.  Tazi, she could not have been searching very hard - Thomas was always listed in the phone book and has several friends and acquaintances in our small town.  Before he reformed, he could always be found at the same bar, seven nights a week.  Because she never told Thomas of his son's existence and never made a claim of paternity, we feel that Thomas does not owe a dime in back child support.  When Thomas told his son's mother this, she broke down and cried saying she could not afford a lawyer to sue him for the money, and that she needed it to pay her mortgage or her house would end up in foreclosure.

Tazi, my husband and I are starting to feel like this woman only "found" him because she is hurting for money and thought him an easy target.  Going forward, we would like to play a part in this boy's life and to let him know that his father did not abandon him.  We have offered to start a college fund for him (as a way of making up for back child support) but all the boy's mother said was "that doesn't do me any good now!"

I hate to even think it, but I am starting to think that this woman is a scam artist.  Thomas does not remember her, but to his (dis?)credit, he admits to having "a lot of one night stands back in the day".  We have suggested going to court to prove paternity and  arrange for joint custody and visitation, but this woman just freaked out and accused us of trying to take her son away from her.  We have talked to the boy on the phone, but have yet to meet him in person.  Do you think we are being scammed, Tazi?  Should we contact an attorney - or even the authorities?

Wanting to Do the Right Thing

Dear Wanting to Do the Right Thing:

Infertility can be heartbreaking, but please do not let your eagerness to start a family lead you down a path of deceit.  I cannot say if this woman is a scam artist or not, but things do not sound all that kosher to me.  However, your husband's past plays a part in this soap opera, too, complicating what should be a very easy issue to solve.

Thomas is either the father to this child or he is not.  The fact that he has been absent for the first twelve years of the boy's life is not his fault, and it is admirable that you both wish to make amends by starting a college fund for the boy.  Before you do any of this, you should contact a reputable family law attorney.  A simple, painless DNA test will establish paternity of the child your husband has supposedly fathered and you can move forward from there.

If Thomas is not the child's father, you will need to decide whether or not to call your local authorities.  I believe that you should.  This woman could be a scam artist or she could honestly believe that your husband fathered her child, and she is now in a desperate enough place that she needs his help.  She mentioned that her son is a "punk", which means she could be looking for more than money; she could be looking for a father for her son.  The fact that she does not wish to involve the courts leaves me wary of her intentions.

If your husband did indeed father this boy, a court will rule on child support payments - past and future - as well as a visitation schedule and custody issues.  I think your idea of setting up a college fund for the boy is a wonderful idea, and should be presented to the judge, if it comes to that point.  You and your husband will both need to reassure the boy's mother that you do not seek to replace her in her son's life, that you simply seek to be an added part of his life.  It is your husband's right as a father, and I am happy to see that you are embracing the idea of being a stepmother.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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