Last year, Gabriel Cornejo from Houston, Texas got the surprise of his life: the father of 3 was told by a sheriff's deputy that he had another child. Or at least that's what the state of Texas thinks.
It turns out 16 years ago Cornejo ended his relationship with a woman, and she claimed that he's the only person who could be the father of her daughter. This came as a shock to Cornejo, who's started his own family since then.
Still, Cornejo agreed to meet the child, and said she's a "wonderful girl." To settle the case once and for all, he even agreed to take a paternity test. The results of the DNA test proved the girl is not his daughter, and the child's mother doesn't dispute the test.
But an obscure loophole means Cornejo is still on the hook for $65,000 in child support payments, and he could go to jail if he doesn't pay the money back. Cornejo said it best when he said “I never thought in my whole life I would have to defend myself for something that I am innocent of.”
Find out why Cornejo still has to pay for someone else's child on the next page!
Back in 2003 a family court took the mother's word when she said that Cornejo was the girl's father, and ruled that he has to pay child support to look after her.
Cornejo says he never heard anything about the court case, and in fact there's no proof that the state ever sent him a subpoena about the the case either. But Cornejo did make a payment, even if he doesn't realize it.
Back when the judge ruled in the mother's favor, Cornejo was working at a car dealership. The court garnished his wages from the job, taking $31 off of his next 3 paychecks. Cornejo says he never even realized the money was taken away.
Since Cornejo paid child support and didn't oppose the ruling in court (since he claims he had no idea it was happening) Cornejo is required by Texas family law to pay back everything he owned before taking the DNA test.
"They say he should have fought back then and he failed to do so," Cornejo's lawyer Cheryl Coleman said, "but how can you fight something you don't know anything about?"
The case will return to court next month, when Cornejo hopes a judge will wipe away the fines. Otherwise, this family man could be paying for somebody else's kid.
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[H/T: ABC 13]