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Man faces jail for child maintenance
A La Brea father faces the possibility of going to jail for failing to pay $35,000 in maintenance for a child for who, he says, is not biologically his. “This is so unfair. I just don’t know how to deal with this. I want the world to see what’s happening to me. To find out the youth who I taking care of like my own son is not mine and now I have to make a jail,” said father Marlon Thompson. The child is now 11 years old and Thompson also has a daughter, a year and eight months old, with another woman whom he married December last. Worried and frustrated over the situation, Thompson was advised to seek the assistance of the Single Fathers Association (SFATT), which is now trying to help him.
He was ordered to pay maintenance, $150 a week, by a Point Fortin magistrate in 2008. But he struck an agreement with the child’s mother outside the court and he believed the maintenance order was discontinued, he said. However, last September, five years later and three months before his wedding, he gave himself up to the police after he heard a warrant was out for his arrest.
“I did not know that (maintenance order) was still in force.” The court ordered him to pay the money in two tranches. Thompson said he filed for custody of the child. However, he decided to take the child to Victoria lab for a paternity test in March. “I don’t even know how to explain how I feel when the test show he was not my son,” he said as he produced the test results.
Thompson took a copy of the results to the court. He said the court ordered another test done, this time with the mother present. He said the matter was called on two other occasions. “She never went,” he said. The last time the matter was called was on July 17, two days after the deadline had passed for him to pay the money. The magistrate, he said, again ordered the mother to be present for the test and adjourned the matter to October. Thompson said the court issued a warrant for him for not paying the maintenance and when arrested he will go straight to prison to begin his three-month term. “I have a family to take care of. My wife cannot work and my daughter was born with an undeveloped lung,” he said.
His wife’s three children from previous relationships also live with them. “Don’t get me wrong I love him. He is still my son. I always taking care of him. I am not a deadbeat dad.” SFATT president, Rhondall Feeles, yesterday said he would call Police Commissioner Stephen Williams and National Security Minister Emmanuel George seeking their assistance. He also intends to write to the judiciary and the Minister of Justice. “He (Thompson) should get a stay on the warrant,” said Feeles.
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