In an Arizona case, a man who was 14 when he had sex with a 20 year old woman, making him a statutory rape victim under Arizona law, has been ordered to pay child support for the child he fathered as a result - including for periods while he was still a minor.

It appears this is not even the first time this has happened, and it may have been done in other states.

The reasoning of the court is that child support is the right of the child, not the custodial parent, and therefore the wrong done to the noncustodial parent is not a factor. I know this is the law, and in general I agree with it, but in a case like this it is problematic.

I find it especially problematic that they expect him to pay for years when he was a minor. (He also doesn't think he should pay for years when he didn't know he was a father, but that's a separate issue). He's actually willing to pay support going forward, and wants to be involved in the child's life, which in the absence of any showing of unfitness, he has a right to be. He wasn't the rapist. He was the child.


In addition to the general unfairness of assessing child support against a minor who was raped, I am also concerned that this type of reasoning would also support giving rapists the right to visitation or custody. It's not exactly the same - it's not solely evaluated based on the right of the child, but also on parental rights, and commission of what is known as an "intrafamily offense" (which would include rape) is considered a very negative factor by most rational judges. But judges, especially in family cases, are extremely unpredictable. I can almost guarantee that some judges would grant visitation, or - gulp - some form of joint custody. And let's not discount the ordeal and expense of the proceeding itself, even if the mother prevails. Even in the best of circumstances, custody proceedings are horribly stressful and unpleasant.

But this decision is going to be trumpeted by the MRAs and father's rights groups as absolute proof that the courts discriminate against men in family court. It's a very troubling decision. I think he ought to appeal at least the part requiring him to pay for periods when he was a minor. I suspect we will be hearing more about it.