Exclusive by Elesha George
A man who says he has spent almost $120,000 supporting a child he always claimed wasn’t his – and even spent time in prison for previous non-payment of child support – was vindicated by a paternity test on Monday.
John Doe* expressed jubilation after it was finally confirmed that the 15-year-old who he had been financially supporting since birth was not his biological daughter.
He told Observer he had been asking the courts to allow him to get a paternity test since 2006.
“It’s like the world came off my shoulder,” he said, explaining all he had been through because he had been unable to get the test for the past 14 years.
The doubts first arose when Doe found out that the woman he was in a relationship with was living with a boyfriend while he was “just the other guy”.
“They have denied me on many occasions. As a matter of fact, one magistrate even went as far and say that this court looks about the welfare of the kids and not the paternity of the kids,” the man recalled.
The child, who he believed to be his seventh child at that time, hasn’t had a relationship with Doe for more than two years, he said. He told Observer that she doesn’t even speak to him anymore.
However, in the process, Doe was imprisoned in 2015, which included a stint in maximum security, for not paying child maintenance, and again for one day last year.
“I’ve been to prison for 22 days and I’ve spent over $117,000 for a kid that is not mine,” he said.
The man said it felt like every police officer in Antigua was looking for him, to have him brought before the court for non-payment of child support until he got tired of having to hide away because of the harassment.
“I couldn’t sleep,” he recalled. “They [the police] kept constantly coming with guns,” he explained, telling Observer that it had taken a toll on his relationship.
“I couldn’t run no more because it was just too much,” he said. Doe continued that he pleaded with the Chief Magistrate to allow him to get a paternity test, which she ultimately granted a few weeks ago.
“She [the magistrate] gave me the benefit of the doubt because she said I sound almost certain,” he told Observer.
Meanwhile, attorney Andrew O’Kola who will be representing Doe going forward, said his client will be seeking remedy.
“We are of the view that a wrong was done. Once we have assessed the case, we will take the necessary steps to remedy this shocking state of affairs,” he told Observer.
“It is unbelievable that issues of paternity would have taken so long to be determined and that the instant circumstances would have a male spend more than 14 years trying to have the issue sorted,” O’Kola continued.
The attorney said this is a prime example of why laws and the judicial process ought not to be gender biased or gender specific.
“When persons come before the court, whether male or female, whether before a male adjudicator or female adjudicator, it is simply the matters that are present at the table that ought to guide the discussion more than any other preconceived ideas,” he explained.
He added that situations like these can negatively impact men’s psyche, applauding the Chief Magistrate for finally ordering a paternity test.
*Name withheld to protect child’s identity.