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DCFS chief dogged by paternity and child-support controversy

DCFS chief dogged by paternity and child-support controversy

As the acting head of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Arthur Bishop oversaw the welfare of children all around the state. Unfortunately, one person scrutinizing Bishop questioned how he could care for Illinois’ children if he has ignored his own daughter since her birth.

According to 27-year-old Erica Bishop, even after a DNA test in 2003 proved Arthur Bishop to be her father, he never sought a relationship with her and failed to pay adequate child support. The governor recently replaced Bishop as acting director by naming a different person to the post.

Reporters interviewed the younger Bishop after her father was nominated to oversee the state agency; reporters found that he had pleaded guilty to a 1995 misdemeanor charge of theft and was named in a paternity lawsuit filed by the woman’s mother in 2003. The 61-year-old DCFS director has declined comment.

Based on December 2003 court filings, Bishop knew he had a daughter born in 1986. The mother claims that Bishop visited them on different occasions, but Bishop maintains that he never met the child and was not aware of the claim until the paternity suit was filed. The case was eventually settled and the mother awarded $4,175 and health coverage for the child. Unfortunately, the judge denied the mother’s request for back child support after Bishop argued that the mother concealed the child from him.

Paternity can legally establish the relationship of a father to his child. As the leading method of determining paternity, DNA testing has an accuracy rate of 99 percent. Once a biological relationship has been established, a father may then be liable for child support and be able to obtain visitation rights.

Given that child support is a big factor in raising a child effectively, not paying child support can have serious consequences in Illinois. A parent who fails to address this family law issue faces potentially severe consequences.

Source: Wbez.org, “Daughter of DCFS chief says he ignored her,” Chris Fusco, Feb. 26, 2014

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