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Father of all mix-ups with teen


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Father of all mix-ups with teen

Grant McArthur

January 23, 2007 12:00am

Source: Melbourne's Herald Sun

A TEENAGER has been accused of being a deadbeat dad by a government agency that claims he fathered a child - when he was three years old.

Tyler Holden, 15, and his family were shocked when he received a letter of demand from the state agency that chases child support from fathers.

The Victorian Legal Aid's Child Support Legal Service said it was pursuing child support for a son it claimed Tyler fathered on July 27, 1994.

The letter says if the high school student refuses to sign a statutory declaration confirming he is the child's father, he must pay $550 for a DNA test to prove otherwise.

The letter also warns Tyler that he faces legal action if he fails to act within 14 days.

The fact that Tyler was born in February 1991 – making him just three when his alleged son was born – did not prevent the agency from chasing him.

"It is scary for a 15-year-old guy to find out he is a father," Tyler said yesterday.

"I'm just really worried about why they would accuse me of being a father at three. I haven't even had sex yet and then I get this letter, so I'm thinking what is going on?

"I just saw my name on the front of the letter and then I read it and thought, `What is going on?'

"I was just disgusted. If it happens to me it could happen to others. They need to take more notice of what they are doing."

The letter arrived at the family's home addressed to "Mr T. Holden" on Friday.

It details the name of the child, the woman Tyler is accused of having a relationship with, and private details about her ability to claim Centrelink entitlements.

The letter, signed by lawyer Grant Harvey, states: "My client instructs that she was in a relationship with a person by your name and this resulted in the birth of the said child."

The bewildered teen said he recently applied for the Youth Allowance at Centrelink and was worried there had been a mix-up with the paperwork.

His mother Tracie said a simple check would have shown Tyler could not have been the father.

"He thought he was in a lot of trouble so it has really affected him," Mrs Holden said.

"If they had said it was my husband, how would I know it was not true?

"I'd rip through him calling him everything under the sun and he's going to stand there swearing black and blue he doesn't even know this person.

"But am I ever really going to believe him?"

Ms Holden was worried innocent men could end up paying child support or losing partners if they received similar letters.

She was also worried for the mother and child, whose details had been given to strangers.

The Herald Sun was unable yesterday to contact the mother and child.

Victorian Legal Aid managing director Tony Parsons said the bungle, was an isolated incident.

"We made a mistake," Mr Parsons said. "This went out under the hand of a junior lawyer here.

"He got the name from a telephone directory, contrary to his training.

"He has been counselled and has written a letter to the recipient apologising.

"In the last five years we have sent out over 2000 similar letters about paternity issues.

"We are very careful about the basis of sending those letters out because we are aware how sensitive they are, and this is the only problem we have had in five years.

"In this case it is a one-off, inexperienced practitioner who did something he shouldn't have and is being counselled in that regard."

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