A woman was ordered to repay $3,730 to a man who she wrongfully thought was the father of her son. The man discovered that he was unable to conceive children which led to a case being filed in the Federal Magistrates Court. This man believed for nine years that he was the father of the child he was financially supporting. The man paid child support despite that he has had little contact with the child.
The man and the woman met through the internet in 2000 and then in 2001; they had a brief tryst. The man believed that he was the father after what he claims was a “one night stand”. The woman said that she believed the man was the only one who could have been the father. So, the woman had the man sign a statutory declaration that he was the father of her child and which allowed her to receive a family tax benefit. They tried but failed to make it together as a couple. They even lived together for two weeks after the child’s birth. The man said that he had been “harried” by the Child Support Agency to give financial support for the woman’s child.
With a new partner, the man tried to conceive but discovered that he was “physiologically incapable of conceiving a child”. The man then had a test which excluded him from being the father of the woman’s child.
In court, the woman remembered that she a one-night encounter with another man whose identity she did not know. She said that she was suffering from depression and stress due to an earlier abusive relationship which affected her memory and thoughts.
Federal Magistrate Stewart Brown found the woman to be negligent instead of deceitful. FM Brown said that the woman “had at best been lax and at worst disingenuous”.
The woman opposed the application of the man for reimbursement of child support because she is in dire financial circumstances. However, the court ordered the woman to pay the man $15 a fortnight on the ground that she was not entitled to child support in the first place.
The man was successful in his application, but he did not go unscathed. FM Brown had to mention that the man was irresponsible towards his intimate relationship with the woman. The Magistrate said, "Without wishing to appear either trite or prurient, it takes two willing participants engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse to conceive a child."