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Man protests law requiring him to pay child support for another man’s child

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DAVENPORT, Iowa- A Quad City man is protesting a child support law that requires him to pay for another man's child.

Joe Vandusen thought it was a joke when he received a certified letter from the Iowa Department of Human Resources last month at his home in Davenport, according to WQAD.

"I opened it up and it was child support, for a kid that is not even mine," he said.

The child was recently born to his long estranged wife, and there's no way it's his, he said.

"We've had no contact whatsoever in 16 or 17 years, and the child just turned one year old," Vandusen said.

But by law, Joe is still legally responsible and the state and its Child Support Recovery Unit, are telling him, he had better pay up.

"I explained to her this is not my child. I'm willing to do a paternity test and she flat out told me it does not matter, you're legally married to her. You're going to pay child support," Vandusen said.

The couple broke up but were never divorced, and Iowa law and many other states require husbands to pay child support for any child born during the marriage.

"I think it's wrong, it shows Iowa needs to change their laws," said Vandusen, who has two biological children and is helping to raise two non-biological children with his current girlfriend of five years.

A spokesperson from the Iowa Department of Human Resources says in a case like Vandusen's, by law, he is considered the legal father of the new child, even though he has not been with the mother in nearly two decades.

His only recourse is to petition the court to "de-establish" paternity.

That will require going to court, and hiring an attorney.

Recently laid off, he says he and his family are already struggling financially, and says the lawyer he contacted wanted a $2,000 retainer fee.

"Unless I come up with that magical $2,000 to pay the lawyer, I don't know what I can do," he said.


    • Mark

      absolutely agree!!!!!!! Start one and I’ll be right there to chip in my part. As much as he shouldve gotten that divorce finalized, (sometimes circumstances / money stop people from going through all the red tape). This is about as unjust as you can get.

    • Becky

      Drake law isn’t taking divorce cases right now and legal asid is only doing cases involving domestic abuse until august. How ever if all parties agree rocketlawyer.Com you can print them out meet sign in front of notary file with court JUST DID it that way! But with kids involved there’s more to it.

  • Jen

    It s’ hard to imagine that anyone ever thought a law like this made sense. Just goes to show that lawmakers are not the brightest!

  • Jill

    It is not actually ridiculous. It’s in the best interest of the state and the taxpayers, and I am not a republican, that this child is supported. What is ridiculous is that one thinks they can essentially leave a legal marriage and start a new life without any other legal consequences. I highly doubt this is his only problem from not getting a divorce.

    • Michelle

      Apparently the “real” father is not stepping up to the plate and the woman is going along with it. If she or the biological father would say this ex wasn’t the father they would do paternity testing….at least in WI.

    • reggie south

      NOT ONE PENNY to this JERK!! He made himself unavailable to be served divorce papers for 16 years! He knew damn well she could not re-marry till he agreed to a divorce!! This was probably her only avenue to getting him to “release” her & marry the real father!!! SHE’s not ‘bitter–she’s forcing him to show up for the divorce or go to jail!!

      • Spectre

        He had a job apparently, so he could have been served at his work. The news crew was able to locate and interview him so he wasn’t really “unavailable”.

      • Not you

        Not too smart are you Reggie. You can get a divorce without the signature of the spouse. You just have to make attempts to serve them and in some states post it in the newspaper for a specific amount of time. Sounds like your the jerk.

      • Becky

        Do you know that personally because of she had hoped an attorney they could found him. .. mine did seems she disn’t want the divorce or to mess with it either

  • Gordon Waldner

    So, why didn’t he divorce this bag twelve years ago? Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Note to others who are separating – divorce asap. My sister was forced to pay thousands of dollars of gambling debts in a similar situation.

  • Nathan Williams

    There’s no way in Hell I’d pay for another man’s kid, married or not. They could send me to jail before I’d pay for someone else’s failure to use birth control.

  • jlbusm

    Iowa law has got to change! He should,or anyone should have to pay child support for a kid that’s not theirs!

  • Steve Macola

    First of all, it’s blatant sexual discrimination: “require HUSBANDS to pay child support”. It should be either gender. SHE should have to be responsible for also paying for HIS 2 kids as well with another woman. Secondly, I DO NOT feel bad for him if after 17 years, he was too lazy or cheap to dig up $500 or so for an UNCONTESTED divorce.

    This law needs to be abolished OR amended for EITHER GENDER, to be fair!!

  • Lori

    This law of marriage is there so men can’t just walk out of a marriage. All states have this law, so the child can’t be made fatherless. It out dated. The guy is responsible you must get the divorce. Too bad so sad but he had time to get it done.

  • Chad

    What you could have done is perhaps cut back on the tins of chaw over the past 16-17 years and used those saved pennies to get a divorce. That’s what reasonable and responsible people do.

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