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Dad by default: Judge makes surprising ruling in child support case

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DETROIT, Mich. (WXYZ) –  A child support case in Detroit gained national attention after the man proved he was not the father of the child in question.

Carnell Alexander says he was shocked when he was arrested during a traffic stop in the early 1990s.

The officer told Alexander that he was being arrested for being a deadbeat dad.

However, Alexander didn’t have any children.

The case started in the late eighties when Alexander’s ex-girlfriend had a child.

She said she needed help providing for the boy, but was told that in order to get welfare assistance, she had to name a father on the paperwork.

She said she decided to put down Alexander’s name, even though she knew he couldn’t be the father.

That’s when the state started a paternity case against him to collect money for the assistance that was provided.

A process-server turned in paperwork, claiming that Alexander was given notice of the case.

However, the Michigan Department of Corrections says that is impossible since he was incarcerated at the time.

Last month, a warrant for his arrest was issued for failure to pay child support.

“I’m almost homeless. I’m almost in jail. I am out of work. My money is threatened to be taken, ” he said. “I’m scared.”

Despite having a paternity test that proves he is not the father, a judge still said he had to pay.

On Tuesday, the Third Judicial Circuit Court heard the case.

“I am outraged that Mr. Alexander for two and a half decades failed to take this matter seriously,” said Judge Kathleen McCarthy.

McCarthy says that while Alexander had been to court dozens of times over the years, she says he never filed a motion to set aside the acknowledgement of parentage.

“That motion must be filed within three years after the child’s birth, or within one year after the order of filiation is entered. The defendant has failed to timely file this motion setting aside the acknowledgement of parentage,” said Judge McCarthy.

Alexander says when he learned that he was a “deadbeat dad,” he had no income and no savings. He has an eighth grade education and could not find a lawyer that he could afford.

He says that he didn’t know of a specific motion that needed to be filed, but he made sure court workers and judges on the case knew he wasn’t the child’s father.

“Every court appearance that she said I made, I made it clear to them I was not the father of the child,” he said.

Alexander says the court also gave him an old address for the child’s mother, so he couldn’t find her until 2013.

Once he took the paternity test, he again tried to prove his case.

According to WXYZ, the real father has been in the child’s life.

The court ruled that Alexander still owes more than $30,000 in child support.

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