(ANTIGUA OBSERVER) Mandatory DNA testing should be required before child maintenance orders are granted for children in Antigua & Barbuda and the wider region, the head of an organisation geared towards the interest of men, is suggesting.
President of the Single Fathers’ Association of Trinidad & Tobago, Rhondall Jesse Feeles believes that this should be a crucial part of the application process because men often times face imprisonment if they fail to make child support payments in a timely manner – and in some instances, they may not even be the father.
Feeles made the suggestion as he highlighted a case where the man had already been paying child support but later discovered the child was not his.
“He did a paternity test 13 years after and it was proven that the child was not his child and there was an order out for his arrest for maintenance before that. Of course, the upkeep of the child is instrumental but are there any checks and balances, even on the mother’s side that she is contributing to the child as well?” he asked.
Feeles said the man spent several years going back and forth in the court to address the situation and eventually the order to pay was quashed. The man nonetheless maintained a relationship with and supported the child.
The advocate said many times men own up to being the fathers based only on information from the woman.
Meanwhile, he said constantly taking time off to make the child maintenance payments can also affect the man’s livelihood.
“In Trinidad & Tobago, we have a slow methodology of paying. Men have lost their jobs because they have days off to go to have this maintenance paid and it has been a horrific experience,” he said on yesterday’s Big Issues Programme.
Feeles meanwhile expressed the view that men should not be imprisoned due to non-payment of child support because some cannot afford these court-ordered payments and called for an assessment of the earning capacities and schedules.