US

Father Has to Pay Child Support for a Child That’s Not His

By Victor Westerkamp

A Florida judge decided a man has to pay for child support as he has done for years, even though DNA testing proved he is not the biological father.

Joseph Robert Sinawa of St. Augustine, Florida, signed the birth certificate at the time because he believed the child was his.

From then on, he had to pay his ex-wife $83 a week, a local county judge decided. “At the time, it had been taking $83 out of my paycheck, more than 1/3 of my pay,” Sinawa told FirstCoastNews. “When I thought I was the father, I didn’t have a problem with it.”

But even though Sinawa spent a third of his income on the support of his son, he still had no parental guardianship and hadn’t seen his son for years.

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A stock photo of a judge’s gavel (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

That’s why, in 2017, he went to Saint John’s County courthouse to gain visiting rights. The judge ordered Sinawa to take a DNA test to prove the child was his. And that’s where things started to take on an unfavorable turn for Sinawa because the DNA test results came back with a shocking result: He was not the biological father.

“I was emotionally devastated,” he said. But just as you thought things couldn’t get crazier, the Florida Department of Revenue appealed the verdict successfully. In 2018, it ruled that Sinawa should keep paying for the child even though it’s not his son.

Sinawa hadn’t “jumped through the right hoops” to change his parental status. That’s what St. Augustine Attorney Brandon Beardsley, who boasts 16-years-span of expertise in family law issues, suspects.

The mother of his child doesn’t want the money. They want to get it over with and don’t want anything to do with each other again. “She told the judge she just wants this to be done and over with, and so do I,” he says.

Sinawa will get his money back in the end if he follows the right procedure, but meanwhile, he will need to pay a considerable amount of money. “The problem with the department of revenue is that the state is their client, not the mom,” Beardsley said.

Meanwhile, Sinawa, who can’t afford an attorney, is representing himself in the ongoing judicial struggle to disengage from his fathership.