A Sheffield man has demanded the child support he paid for nearly a decade be refunded after it emerged the ‘son’ he never met is not his.
The man, whom we have chosen not to name to protect the child in question, said he only discovered he was not the father after ringing the Child Support Agency (CSA) to ask if he could meet the boy.
He claims he was told over the phone that the case had been closed and payments were no longer being taken, but he was not offered an apology or given any explanation about how it had emerged he was not the child’s dad.
The 45-year-old, from Pitsmoor, who has 10 children of his own, says £10 a month was taken from his benefits – adding up to around £1,200 over the period in question – and he believes that money should be repaid.
But the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says he is not entitled to a refund as he failed challenge the demand for payments or request a paternity test at any time.
“The way they’ve treated me is wrong, and I want other people to be aware of this ludicrous situation,” he said.
“I should be entitled to a refund but it's not about the money as much as the principle.
“It’s caused me a lot of stress thinking I have this child all these years that I’ve never been able to see.
“If I hadn’t rung them up in the first place I’d still be none the wiser, because they didn't have the decency to let me know.”
The man, who is unable to work due to his disability but has volunteered for youth organisations over the years, said he met the mother at a strip club in Attercliffe and they were together for several months before he ended their relationship.
He says she never contacted him to say she was having his child and he had no way to get in touch with her once the CSA contacted him.
The CSA has been replaced by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) but it still handles historic cases.
The DWP said any disagreements about parentage should be raised ‘at the earliest opportunity’ to ensure the correct amount of child maintenance is paid.
It added that the CMS will attempt to sort out disagreements when they occur, and once payments are agreed they are reviewed each year and can be altered if circumstances change.
The DWP recently released figures showing that nearly a third of parents in Sheffield were failing to keep up with child maintenance payments to their ex-partners.