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Man Forced to Pay Child Support for Another Man’s Child

March 29, 2009
Posted by JeanneSager

All Walter Andre Sharpe Jr. did was sign for a certified letter. Considering the addressee was Andre Sharpe – not far off – could you blame him?

A judge in Pennsylvania did. He made Walter Andre Sharpe Jr. liable for child support for a little girl who’s real father was Andre Sharpe. When Walter Sharpe couldn’t keep up with the payments to support a child that wasn’t even his? The state threw him in jail.

Walter Andre Sharp Jr. ignored the letter once he realized it wasn’t really meant for him. The father of four from a previous marriage already paid child support to his ex-wife. But when neither he nor the real Andre Sharp showed up at a child support hearing to answer the letter, a judge put the onus on Walter Sharpe. He authorized Walter’s wages be garnished – to pay not only new charges but more than $5,000 in back support. That was 2001.

Walter Sharpe applied several times for a paternity test to prove he wasn’t the girl’s father, but he was denied each time. Between 2001 and 2005, Walter Sharpe landed in jail for four separate six-month terms for falling behind on payments to support the little girl. He finally lost his job in 2005, but it would take another two years before the paternity order would be overturned. But as recently as two months ago, the state has still been denying him compensation for the $12,000 subtracted from his pay and sent the way of the real Andre Sharpe’s baby mama’s mother, the little girl’s grandmother. Ironically, the real Sharpe says he’s always supported his daughter. In fact, she’s lived with him for the past four years. 

The district attorney is finally investigating, but the president of the county where this happened is still putting at least a portion of the blame on Walter Sharpe, essentially for not being more proactive. 

Since when should a man have to be more proactive in expecting NOT to pay child support for someone else’s child? I admit there are plenty of deadbeat parents out there – and they deserve to be hunted down and made to support the child they helped create. HOWEVER, when a guy asks for a paternity test, a paternity test is in order. Who could really lose here? If the result is positive, the judge has even more support behind him or her in making a decision. If it’s negative, well, you save a guy $12,000 and four years of his life spent in prison for a crime that he really couldn’t have committed. Because how could you fail to pay child support you never owed in the first place?

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