DETROIT — The state of Michigan gave one Carnell Alexander an ultimatum: Pay child support or go to jail.
Problem is, the Alexander is not the father and has the tests to prove it.
And he’s only seen the boy once.
But because of a legal loophole lasting two decades, he may have to cough up some major cash or be thrown behind bars.
Alexander walked into the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice knowing in moments he could lose his freedom.
“I stayed up all night, couldn’t sleep thinking about it,” he said.
Alexander is a wanted man because he refuses to do what the state orders and pay child support for a child that DNA tests prove isn’t his, a child he doesn’t even know.
“I haven’t even had a chance to really speak to him except for one time when we took a DNA test.”
Nonetheless, right now under the law, he is a dead beat dad. He turned himself into the judge as ordered.
“[I’m] scared because I’ve been before this judge before,” he said.
But this time he had attorney Cherika Harris, who volunteered to help after seeing his story on 7 Action News. The judge said he will not go to jail — for now.
“Thank you. Thank Ms. Harris and hope that we can resolve this soon.”
“I’m just trying to help him with his future,” Harris said.
Though the threat of jail is on hold, it is not over. Alexander still owes more than $30,000 to the state for a child that’s not his because the mom wrote his name down because she needed to name someone in order to get welfare benefits.
“I had to put him down as the father, that was the only way I could get assistance,” the mother said.
“I’m almost homeless. I’m almost in jail. I am out of work. My money is being threatened to be taken,” Alexander said of the paternity suit.
He isn’t just worried how this is impacting him. He says the law needs to be changed — so when this happens as it often does — other men don’t become dad by default.
“We can be defaulted into being a father of a child that is not ours. I don’t understand that law, but it is the law in place.”