The Importance of Policy and Exceptions: Rape Victim to Pay Child Support
A man from Phoenix has been ordered to pay child support for his daughter. There does not seem to be anything out of the ordinary about this situation, right? Well, Nick Olivas had sexual relations with a 20 year old woman who later became pregnant and for nearly eight years, the existence of the child was unknown to him. Olivas claims that the 20 year old woman took advantage of him. State law also states that a child under the age of 15 cannot consent with an adult under any circumstances. Under this law, Olivas is considered a rape victim.
At the age of 22, Olivas became aware of the existence of his child when the state of Arizona served him with papers demanding payment of child support for the child. Olivas said he now owes about $15,000 in back child support and medical bills from the date of the child's birth to the current date, including 10 percent interest. The state seized money from his bank account and is now garnisheeing his wages at $380 a month.
The state of Arizona currently has 153,000 active child-support cases, according to the Arizona Department of Economic Security division of Child Support Services. Olivas is willing to pay child support, but does not believe he should be on the hook for payments for the time period in which he was still a minor or for the time period that he was unaware of his child's existence.
This is not the first case involving rape victims and child support payments. The most well-known case was in Kansas when a 13 year old boy impregnated his 17 year old baybsitter. Under Kansas law, a child under the age of 15 is legally unable to consent to sex. The Kansas Supreme Court in 1993 ruled that the boy was liable for child support. The Kansas court determined that the rape was irrelevant and that the child support was not owed to the rapist, but rather to the child.
In Arizona, the Department of Economic Security oversees child support enforcement. Is written policy is not to exempt situations like Olivas' from child-support responsibilities, unless the parent seeking child support has been found guilty of sexual assault with a minor or sexual assault. DES officials said the intent of the rule is to ensure that the child, who had no control over the situation, is cared for.
Arizona also has no exemption for children born to children, although the state cannot get a court order for child support against the non-custodial parent until that parent becomes an adult. It also does not matter to the state whether the non-custodial parent knows about the child or not. Child support is a separate legal issue from custody.