The Bureau of Child Support Enforcement had a summons served on the mother when the child was 5 months old. The summons was in a case filed by the BCSE asking for paternity establishment and for the biological father to pay child support, and back medical support.
Why did the BCSE file this petition?
Let’s look again at the three ways a child custody case lands in family court.
- The biological father denies paternity and gives no support to the mother. etc.
In this case the biological father gave no support to the pregnancy, birth, or thereafter. He made claims on social media that he gave money to the mother which she refused to accept. But when asked under oath if he had ever given any support for his child to the mother, he and his attorney replied that he had not.
The biological father, N.S. did not deny paternity privately and on social media. However, he failed to complete and notarize and present to the mother a paternity affidavit. An affidavit is required by law in West Virginia for an unmarried father’s name to be on a child’s birth certificate. N.S. knew about this requirement, but did not ever fulfill it. On the contrary, he texted the mother—a text which she entered into the court record – that the mother had no claim against him so long as he was not on the birth certificate.
Nevertheless, even though the mother felt and feels strongly that both mothers and fathers should support their children, she did not file a petition for paternity establishment and child support. She did not apply to the BCSE. It was not through her actions that the BCSE filed the case in family court.
- The biological father wants to acknowledge and support the child, and have custody, but the mother either keeps the pregnancy and birth secret from the father, denies paternity, or contests his custody claims.
In this case, if the father wanted to acknowledge the child, all he had to do was complete a paternity affidavit. He has never done so. As he testified, he never gave anything for the support of the child. The mother did not keep her pregnancy a secret. She informed N.S. of the pregnancy at 5 weeks. She did not deny paternity. N.S. had not filed for custody. His own texts state that he wanted to avoid claims upon him. In addition, he entered into the court records an email in which he states that he does not want to be “gouged” by the courts.
It is pretty unbelievable that N.S., given his actions, inactions, and documented statements, would have wanted to start a court action. In fact, in his response to the BCSE petition, N.S. made an objection to paternity testing.
- The mother receives public assistance, …etc.
Neither mother nor child received any public assistance, the mother had not applied for any, and the Department of Health and Human Services was in no way involved.
In short, the BCSE had no standing to bring the case.
The mother is not a lawyer. She was both surprised and confused by the BCSE petition. But as she informed herself, and looked at the law, it seemed pretty clear to her that the BCSE had no standing to file a case. She spoke to several lawyers, who shared her confusion. The DHHR had not applied to the BCSE. The mother had not applied to the BCSE. The petition did not have attached to it any application by the father; and why would he, who had paid nothing and appeared determined to pay nothing, bring an action against himself for child support?
Subsequent events, where N.S. fought tooth and nail not to pay child support, validate the general confusion over this petition. The mother asked Kristin Antolini, the lawyer she engaged to represent her, to object on the grounds that the BCSE had no standing, and to request to see the file that the BCSE was compiling on the mother and her child. Kristin Antolini did not make the objections the mother requested.
Why did Kristin Antolini not object to the BCSE filing a case in which it had no standing? Who was Kristin Antolini really representing while charging hourly fees to the mother?