The Best Advice to Give Our Sons and Grandsons After the Roe v. Wade Decision is to Wear A Condom Or They May Be Giving A Large Percentage of Their Net Income for Eighteen Years To A Woman Whose Last Name They May Not Even Know

The above advice was how I started a speech to a professional legal group, mostly men, when I was a sitting Florida family court judge several years ago.  At that time the percentage of net income for child support for one child was 17%.  That is a hefty sum to pay for eighteen years.  I got the groups’ attention.  Then, I added that the woman he impregnated could move to Alaska without permission before the paternity case was filed, and he might never get to see the child. 

This was all before the recent decision in Roe v. Wade, and abortion being illegal or impossible in a good portion of our country. Now it is more likely than not that a man who impregnates a woman will be giving a large percentage of their net income for eighteen years to a woman whose last name they may not even know.

As a family court judge serving over a period of nearly twenty years, I saw a dramatic shift and transformation of the definition of family and the constitution of a family.  In 2012, 41% of all children were born to unmarried women.  My workload went from a majority of dissolution of marriage (what divorce is called in Florida) to nearly half paternity actions.

Most lay people have no idea what a paternity action is and what it involves.  The Florida paternity action comes after a huge decision that is not even considered, not just the impregnation, but signing the acknowledgment of paternity.  No one reads the back of the form which is in tiny print.  If the putative father (not yet the legal father until a final judgment is signed by a judge) does not rescind the acknowledgment within sixty days of signing it, the putative father is on the hook for not only child support, but so much more in the paternity action.  Florida law provides for hospital expenses, attorneys fees, and I could go on. . . . See, Florida Acknowledgment of Paternity.

The executed Acknowledgment of Paternity does something more.  It forecloses a judge from ordering a paternity test.  Therefore, sons and grandsons seeing the newborn child emotionally commit by signing a document that then denies them legal recourse to challenge paternity and get a DNA test except on very limited bases with the burden on the challenger.

In Florida, there is another hurdle, called a Florida Putative Father Registry with grave consequences if a man does not register after having sex with a woman. Florida Putative Father Registry:

Paternity cases are also very challenging for judges.  The parents-to-be are more likely to be strangers, young, of meager means, or, possibly to another extreme, men targeted for their wealth and station in life to provide a gravy train for eighteen years.  Yes, I saw this with professional athletes who met someone in a bar. . . .

I am surprised that more parents and grandparents of boys have not joined the uproar over the Roe v. Wade decision. The consequences of forced fatherhood they may be facing–especially if those they impregnated also prefer not to have children – are immense, and this information is just beginning to be shared and published.

Posted On Facebook by a man who recommends the following:

“Overturning Roe requires another law to be passed that ensures men bear equal responsibility for pregnancies.  Call it the “Personal Responsibility Act.”  Using DNA as a verification, paternity for every embryo should be established and the male responsible obligated by law to support the woman and the child through the child’s majority, including medical costs, living costs, education–all the costs a father normally assumes for his child.  In addition, the child should have a full share of the father’s estate, if and when the father dies.  If women cannot decide whether or not carry a child, fathers should not be able to decide whether or not to support the woman and the child.  It’s about time men assumed responsibility for the consequences of their pleasure.”

Posted on Facebook by a woman who recommends the following:

“Time for child support and paternal responsibility to begin at conception.”           

See, “Men Have a Lot to Lose When Roe Falls,” by Andrea Becker, a medical sociologist, in the New York Times, May 26, 2022.

A quote from her article:

“For instance, one study found that among men involved in a pregnancy before the age of 20, those whose partner had an abortion were more likely to have graduated from college compared with those whose partner gave birth.”

See, also, “The Voices of Men Affected By Abortion,” by Alisha Haridasani Gupta, New York Times, June 25, 2022.

A quote from her article:

“An estimated one in five men in the United States have been involved in an abortion (meaning their partner’s pregnancy ended in an abortion), according to a recent analysis of data between 2015 and 2017 from the National Survey of Family Growth.  “Men really need to consider what losing access to safe and legal abortion means for them. . . .”

The best advice to give our sons and grandsons after the Roe v. Wade decision is to wear a condom or they may be giving a large percentage of their net income for eighteen years to a woman whose last name they may not even know. The option to end an unwanted pregnancy may no longer be an option or will not be an option for many.

Only federal legislation can change the decision in Rowe v. Wade and legislation in individual states in the interim.  That takes representatives who believe how you believe on the issue be placed in office.  The best advice for parents and grandparents is to VOTE and have the qualifying children and grandchildren VOTE to have a voice on those who make the law.

With little joy,

Mema

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