Fatherhood is a rather strange concept in law. At heart, the laws tend to ignore their rights, concentrating on those of the kids. Which doesn't make much sense.
Everyone admits religious rights exist. But no moron would claim that my right to worship as I wish lets me burn your house down - even if my religion values arson. My rights do not eliminate your rights. Kids rights do not eliminate the rights of the men - that may or may not biologically related but in today's world definitely were not in control of deciding if the kid should be born. There are even cases of women stealing sperm,and not just in the United States.
In addition, duties come with rights, which somehow get overlooked all the time. That is, if I have a duty to the kid, then I have rights over the kids.
Sometimes the law states that biology matters, other times marriage matters. In general this is done not for the benefit of the kid, but for the benefit of the mother.
This article is not about divorced dads that choose (with or without pressure from the mother) to have kids and then abandon them. I fully expect both the mother and the father to raise such children, and pay for them. Even if they get divorced.
Instead this is about the other situation - when there was no marriage and no explicit or even implicit decision to have kids. There, the laws grant all the power to the mother and none to the father - OR the kid.
In particular, there are two cases that highlight the stupidities of the law.
First there is the case of Baby Verionica, whose Native American father gave up his legal rights when he thought the baby would be raised by Native Americans. Then when it turned out not to be true, he tried to assert them again.
Then there is the case of a sperm donor being forced to pay child support (over the objection of the mother), because the state of Kansas neither recognizes the biological mother's lesbian marriage, nor the contract he had with both women. (Note, the courts used a technicality - that no doctor was present for the insemination to avoid admitting the father had no responsibility.)
Our legal structure continues to insist that men are responsible for the child, despite taking all the power away from them. Women have all the power. They can abort, they can put the child up for adoption. More importantly, their something called birth control pills which can not be subverted by a pin.
In addition, there are cases where women have admitted not having sex with the man, but instead obtaining sperm for donation, and the courts still order the men to pay child support. See the sperm donor case above.
It is NOT true that men are responsible for the family structure, women have all the power, the men have almost none. Would any one dare tell a 2 month pregnant woman that she can't legally get an abortion because she was the one who got pregnant and now she has to take responsibility for her sexual acts? You try that in a liberal state, and you would be pilloried. Why don't men have the same rights as women?
But it is OK to tell a man that he must take responsibility for his sexual acts by paying child support?
The honest truth is that in American culture (as with most of the world), women are the ones that want the child, women are the ones that have the legal power to have the child, women are the ones that have the legal power to get rid of the child.
As per this web page approximately 1% of unmarried women give up their children for adoption (Source - 2003 study)
We take them at their word that they are unable to care for their children and let them abandon them - without any legal repercussions. We don't track them down decades later, check to see if they have money and demand they pay child support. What about the rights of the kids then?
We don't even give those kids the legal right to contract their biological parents, let alone the right to sue for money. If we truly care about the rights of the child, then have Bill Gates pay. That a joke, Mr. Gates. In honest truth the money should be taken from the general tax receipts. We don't take it from the parent's social security checks when their grown kids go on unemployment. Even though a case could be made that the elderly parents screwed up raising the kids and are responsible.
The question is not about the right of the child to get the money but the responsibility of who to pay for it. Sperm donors should never, under any circumstances be forced to do this.
We need better laws clarify what is and what is not a father - and they should be national.
We need to decide if a parent is someone biologically related to the child or a decision to raise a child.
Frankly, the biological method seems fraught with multiple ethical problems.. If a man is a parent, then he has rights along with the duties, which means every single man has the right to know if he is a father at the birth of the child. Women should be required by law to reveal the father if known, and should not be allowed to put a child up for adoption without getting his consent. Genetic testing should then be done at birth to confirm all children. There are lots of issues here.
The decision to raise a child makes for a far better method, but it brings up the many times where a woman decides she wants to raise a child, ignoring the wishes of the man that un-knowingly assisted her with her desire.
There is one real problem. Every year, about 1.4 million children are born to unwed mothers (as per 2003 study mentioned above) and only 1% of them are given up for adoption. THAT IS THE REAL PROBLEM.
These women choose to do this - in part because they think the man should pay. These women want the kids. That's OK. But the men shouldn't be forced to pay for something they never wanted and the women clearly did desire.
But I have a solution to this issue. Let any unwed mother have as many kids as she wants. But if she has them, she can either:
1) refuse to divulge the father, forever giving up rights to child support.
2) let the courts take the kids and give them to the father to raise.
In my opinion, that would be true justice. There is no reason whatsoever that women should raise the kids, as opposed to the man.
Some of you will say that the men would not be good fathers. Unfortunately, many studies have shown that the majority of never married women are not significantly better. Higher drop out rates, higher teen motherhood rates, higher unemployment rates, lower grade point averages, higher divorce rates, etc. Maybe it's time to try it the other way around - it's hard to imagine the fathers doing a worse job.
Of course, this may just be the rant of a man that regrets never having a child himself.