A Florida man has been forced to pay child support even though a DNA test proved that he is not the child's biological father, First Coast News reports.
Last year, Joseph Sinawa, of St. Augustine, went to St. Johns County courthouse in an attempt to get visiting rights for the child. At the time of the child's birth, Sinawa had signed the birth certificate believing he was the child's father. When a judge ordered a DNA test to prove his paternity, he learned that the child was not his.
"I was emotionally devastated," he recalled.
Although the child's mother has reportedly told the court that she is fine with Sinawa not paying child support, the state has insisted that Sinawa continue paying.
"At the time it had been taking $83 out of my paycheck, more than one-third of my pay," he said. "When I thought I was the father, I didn’t have a problem with it."
Though a judge initially decided that Sinawa should not pay, the Florida Department of Revenue appealed the decision, claiming that he did not go through the appropriate channels to disestablish paternity, according to Brandon Beardsley, who practices family law but does not represent Sinawa.
"It was a waste of Florida taxpayer resources to appeal a decision when the end result is going to be the same," Beardsley said.
The attorney expects Sinawa, who is representing himself, to be let off at the hook at some point — but not without taking a significant hit to his bank account.
"You're just making a father pay child support every month now for an extended period of time, which he should not be paying, until he follows these procedures," Beardsley told First Coast News. "The problem with the department of revenue is that the state is their client, not the mom."