Mum ordered to pay back sterile 'dad'
By Shelley HadfieldHerald Sun (Melbourne)
8 October 2011
Quote: The woman told the Federal Magistrates Court she now remembered having had a one-night encounter with another man.
A mum has been ordered to repay child support to a man she claimed was her son's father after he found he could not conceive.
The man spent nine years believing the child was his after what he says was a "one-night stand".
He told a court he believed the mother had manipulated the situation.
The woman has now been ordered to repay the $3,730 he paid in child support.
The couple, who cannot be identified, met on the internet in late 2000 and had a brief rendezvous in 2001.
They lived in different states.
The woman claimed she believed he was the only person who could have been the dad.
She had him sign a statutory declaration stating he was the father so she could receive the family tax benefit.
But the man discovered last year, while trying to conceive a child with his new partner, that he was "physiologically incapable of conceiving a child".
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A test later excluded him as the father.
The woman told the Federal Magistrates Court she now remembered having had a one-night encounter with another man.
She told the court she had suffered depression and stress from an earlier abusive relationship and her memory and thought processes were not clear.
She did not know the real father's identity.
In a judgment published this week, Federal Magistrate Stewart Brown said the mother had been negligent rather than deceitful in not telling the man of her earlier liaison.
"I think it unlikely that (the mother) would have forgotten her earlier liaison with the person she now concedes must be the (boy's) father," Mr Brown said.
He said the woman had at best been lax and at worst disingenuous.
Mr Brown ordered her to repay the man $15 a fortnight, saying he had paid her child support to which she was not legally entitled.
The woman fought the application that she repay child support, arguing such an order would be oppressive because she was in tough financial circumstances.
The man told the court he had been "harried" by the Child Support Agency.
Mr Brown said the couple had made some attempt to be a family, living together for two weeks after the boy's birth.
But the man had had little contact with the boy since he was a toddler.
Mr Brown said the man approached the intimate relationship with a level of irresponsibility.
"Without wishing to appear either trite or prurient, it takes two willing participants engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse to conceive a child," the magistrate said.