Herald Sun (Aust) November 11, 2008
MOTHERS are being forced to pay back as much as $60,000 to men they wrongly claimed fathered their children following a contentious reform of child support laws. The Daily Telegraph can reveal 18 men, cleared by DNA testing, have made use of changes permitting them to claw back funds paid through the Child Support Agency. More than 300 men have been cleared by DNA of being fathers. Documents obtained under Freedom of Information show orders for $171,567 to be returned have so far been made against the mothers. Angry women’s groups said last night that it would be the children at the centre of the disputes who would suffer most if money were paid back.
The money is being garnisheed from mothers’ incomes by the Child Support Agency in the same way that payments are taken from the wages of non-custodial fathers. In each case the duped men were able to prove beyond doubt in the courts they were not the fathers based on DNA paternity testing. The new law, section 143 of the Child Support (Assessment) Act, requires the Family Court to consider issuing orders for repayment where paternity is successfully challenged and child support has been paid.