When someone becomes a parent, they have a responsibility to their child to support them at all costs.
Almost two decades ago, a fisherman from Australia found out that he was going to become a father after a one night stand resulted in pregnancy. While he and the mother had no plans of staying together, he was committed to supporting his child. However, that commitment finally ended after he received the results of a DNA test.
A One Night Stand
18 years ago, Kerry Headley was a local football star in Cervantes, a coastal town in Western Australia. As a young man, he spent most of his time training, as football was his biggest priority. However that all changed after having a one night stand with a woman who was 11 years his senior.
A One Time Thing
At first, Headley never expected to hear from the woman, Julie, again. They had slept together but neither of them were interested in starting a relationship. So when he heard from Julie a few months later, he was surprised and confused why she was reaching out.
According to Headley, Julie told him that she was only getting in touch with him to tell him that she was pregnant. At the time, Julie told Headley that he was the father and she figured he should know about the baby. However, he never got a chance to be in his child’s life.
After telling Headley that he was going to be a father for the first time, Julie left town. He didn’t hear from her again. However, months later, Headley, who started working as a fisherman, got a notice about a child support payment that he owed.
Before that moment, Headley always wondered if Julie had been telling him the truth all those months before. According to him, Julie had been seeing a few other men at the time. As a result, he couldn’t help but wonder if the child was actually his.
So when Headley finally did get a child support notice, he didn’t take it too seriously and put it aside. However, after a while, the child support bills started to build up. Headley’s debt was steadily growing and he couldn’t ignore the matter any longer.
The Only Option
At the time, Headley felt he had no other option than to start paying child support. Not only was the Child Support Agency hounding him to pay his balance, but he figured that there was a chance he was the child’s father. And if the child was actually his, he wanted to support his daughter even if he wasn’t in her life.
Forcing His Hand
“The bills started to pile up and I had to take action because if I didn’t, they would,” Headley said in an interview with A Current Affair. “The first time they froze my account was during a fishing season. I had my passport frozen and told that it wouldn’t be reinstated until I had paid the bill in full.”
A Forced Payment
After his accounts were frozen, Headley had no choice but to pay the child support. At the time, the balance was almost $30,000. “I had $26,000 taken out,” Headley said. However, that payment only brought him up to date with what was owed.
Struggling to Keep Up
As time went on, Headley received more and more child support bills. As a seasonal fisherman, Headley didn’t always make a steady paycheck. If he and the rest of the crew on the fishing boat managed to catch a lot of fish during a season, he would bring in a decent amount of money. But that wasn’t always the case.
An Inconsistent Income
If conditions were bad during a season, Headley wouldn’t bring in much money. As a result, he struggled to keep up with child support payments. Before long, he was drowning in debt from the child support payments that were building up again.
The Right Thing
However, Headley did everything he could to make the payments. Not only did he want to get out of debt, but he wanted to make sure that he doing the right thing by his daughter. Over the years, Headley ended up paying Julie $60,000 to help support her while she raised their daughter.
A Nagging Suspicion
However, over those 18 years, Headley couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right. “Even at the start he was like, ‘I don’t know how I can be the father, because there’s quite a few suitors going around here,’” Headley’s wife, Shannon, told 9News.
18 Years Later
After a while, Headley couldn’t ignore his suspicions any longer. He wanted to get to the bottom of the situation once and for all, so he decided to contact the Child Support Agency. Once in contact with a consultant, Headley explained the situation.
The Missing DNA Test
While on the phone, the consultant from the agency asked Headley about his paternity test. While looking at his file, the consultant explained that he didn’t see any results for a DNA test. “The consultant from Child Support, when he asked me, I can’t see a result for a DNA test here,” Headley said.
The Next Step
“I said, ‘Because I didn’t have one’,” Headley explained. When the consultant heard that Headley had never had a paternity test, he told him to get one straight away. “And he pretty much on the phone called me a stupid idiot and to go and get one done as soon as I could.”
The Paternity Test
So Headley organized a DNA test as soon as he could. Not long after, he received the results from the test and discovered that the girl he believed to be his daughter didn’t actually belong to him. Whether Julie meant to or not, she lied to Headley and made him believe he was responsible for her daughter. Headley was furious that he had been lied to for 18 years. After the shock wore off, however, he just wanted to be repaid the $60,000 he was wrongly forced to pay over the years. Yet when he contacted the Child Support Agency again, he received another shock.
An Expensive Lie
While speaking to a consultant, Headley demanded to know how he had been forced to pay 18 years worth of child support when they had no proof that he was the child’s father. At that point, he learned that Julie lied to the agency and told them they had been living together when her daughter was conceived. That lie alone was what caused Headley to be hounded by the agency for almost two decades.
Julie’s Side of the Story
After Headley went public with the story, Julie issued a statement to tell her side of the story. “Over the last 18 years Kerry has had the chance to get a DNA test but as myself and Child Support could never get in contact with him, it never happened, and now he is coming out with accusations that are unfounded and untrue,” Julie told A Current Affair in the statement.
“Where’s My Money?”
Now, Julie has been ordered to repay Headley, however, because she doesn’t work, she can only pay him back in installments of $49.80. Since the payment will be made every other week, it will take 44 years for Headley to get his money back. “I’ve been hassled non-stop by Child Support, but the reason they thought I was the dad wasn’t right. They accepted me as the father without any proof. That’s what makes me angry, really,” said Headley, who believed Child Support should reimburse him for their mistake. “This proves I’m not the dad, so where’s my money?”