By Gerri Elder
In Kansas, Karey Sprowson, the wife of 19-year Army veteran Master Sqt. Christopher Sprowson, is urging legislators to change a law so men can use genetic testing to avoid paying child support for children they didn't father.
On Jan. 21, Mrs. Sprowson told lawmakers the state plans to garnish her husband's paycheck and keep the family's tax refund to support a child that is not his biological son. Sgt. Sprowson is currently on his third tour in Iraq, and his wife stays home with the couple's three children.
In 1995, Sprowson's first wife became pregnant by another man, and the couple got a divorce shortly after the child was born. DNA testing proved that Sprowson was not the father of the baby. Sprowson never has had a relationship with the child, who is now 13, but he was ordered to pay child support.
Under Kansas law, the husband is the "presumed father" of any children his wife has during the marriage. A judge decided that it didn't make a difference that Sprowson wasn't the biological father of the child.
Sprowson's ex-wife told the court that she didn't know the identity of her son's biological father. She also never sought to collect child support from Sprowson and offered not to collect; however, since Sprowson's ex-wife collected welfare at one point, the state required the child support payments. In Kansas, the state automatically seeks child support for any parent who receives state assistance.
The Kansas City Star reported that Karey Sprowson told the Senate Judiciary Committee that it's not fair that her children have to suffer. Shoe pointed out that in Ohio, Colorado and Florida, laws have already been corrected to protect men who are not biological fathers from child support garnishments.
Legislators were sympathetic but declined a proposed bill that would allow a man presumed to be the father to request genetic testing, without the court considering the best interests of the child. Such a change in the law could have unintended consequences and affect many other children in the state, according to legislators.