Friday, July 13, 2007

Legal Ramifications of Teen Sexuality

A man in Florida owes more than $10,000 in back child support payments in a paternity case involving a 15-year-old girl who he allegedly fathered when he was 16; but who, according to DNA results and the girl's mother, is not his daughter.

He still has to pay.

The state of Florida is continuing to push him to pay $305 a month to support the girl, as well as the more than $10,000 already owed. He spent a night in jail because of his delinquent payments. Why? Because he missed the deadline to legally contest paternity. The paperwork didn't reach him until after the deadline had passed.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

If you want to receive timely notice when someone files against you for support be sure to stay in touch with all your old girlfriends (unless of course doing so would violate a request or court order), submit change of address forms to the post office when you move and consider filing with the putative father registry whenever there is a chance that you may have conceived a child.

Also consider the case of Genarlow Wilson, a Georgia teen who has spent nearly 29 months in prison on a ten year sentence which a judge and numerous commentators have called unjust. Wilson had consensual oral sex with a 15 year old girl at a party when he was 17.

The Georgia statutory rape law was amended to exempt "Romeo and Juliette" cases but only for intercourse, leaving the prosecutor free to press the felony charge against Wilson. To follow his case, click here.

Massachusetts, however, has no such exemption. See Mass. General Laws chapter 265, section 23.

You can be prosecuted for consensual sex with your under-aged partner. You can be forced to pay support for children you did not consent to conceive and even children who are not yours.

Bottom line: Sexuality is complicated and has significant legal ramifications.


MLR said...

And then there's the case (reported in the July 22nd Oregonian)of the middle school boys who are facing felony sex charges and lifetime registration as sex offenders if found guilty for "slap butt day".

See "Unruly schoolboys or sex offenders?" Sunday, July 22, 2007, SUSAN GOLDSMITH, The Oregonian Staff --

MLR said...

Here's a "tinyURL" for the Oregonian article --

MLR said...

On October 26, 2007, the Georgia Supreme Court overturned Genarlow Wilson's conviction. See Humphrey v. Wilson at

The court ruled that because the legislature decided that consensual oral sex between two teens who are close in age should be a misdemeanor and not a felony, the 11 year sentence that Wilson received was cruel and unusual.

Note again that Massachusetts does not have a "Romeo & Juliet" provision in its statutory rape law.

MLR said...

In the case nicknamed "Roe v. Wade for men", the Sixth Circuit US Court of Appeals ruled that despite being told by his partner that she was incapable of conceiving a child and was using birth control and despite his assertions throughout the relationship that he did not want to be a father, he could constitutionally be required to pay child support for the child that was conceived as a result of the relationship.

Matthew Dubay had sued the mother and Michigan's child support enforcement agency claiming that allowing women to terminate a pregnancy or place a baby up for adoption or with a "baby safe haven" agency while denying him the right to disavow his paternity violated the equal protection provisions of the U.S. and Michigan constitutions.

The court disagreed. It found that the child support statute was gender-neutral and that the state had a significant interest in assuring the support and education of children. It therefore affirmed the dismissal of Dubay's Civil Rights Act complaint and affirmed the district court's award of attorneys fees to the State.

For the full opinion in Dubay v. Wells (decided 11/6/07) go to

MLR said...

If the law says that people under 16 years of age are incapable of consenting to sex, why is it that underaged girls are arrested and prosecuted for prostitution? That's the question posed by an Op/Ed entitled "The Wrong Target" by Bob Herbert in the February 19, 2008, New York Time. also at

MLR said...

Though MA does not have a Romeo and Juliet exception to its statutory rape law, there are now enhanced penalties for sexual relations based on age differences. Mass. General Laws chapter 265, section 23A

Also, in response to issues similar to those raised by Mr. Herbert in my comment above, MA now has protections for sexually exploited children. See M.G.L. chapter 119, sec. 21