A German man has told how the country’s child support authorities cost him his relationship with the mother of his children when they falsely accused him of fathering another child with a different woman.
The 44-year-old taxi driver, who has not been named under German privacy laws, says he received a letter from the district court in Berlin demanding he pay support for a child who was not his.
When his partner of ten years, who has also not been named, saw the letter she believed he had been unfaithful to her and left him.
The authorities have since admitted that the letter was addressed to the wrong man and the taxi driver is not the father of the child.
But his former partner does not want to resume their relationship and says she is happier without him.
“I knew it could only be a mistake, because I was always loyal to my partner. But I also knew that no matter what I said, she would never believe, because our relationship, it has been in a bit of a crisis,” the taxi driver told Bild newspaper.
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When he received the initial demand, he says he hid the letter from his partner and called the district court to try to clear the matter up. But he didn’t want to pay the necessary €484 (£430) for a paternity test and the court refused to drop the case.
When a second letter arrived demanding he pay child support, he showed it to his partner. She moved out, taking the couple’s two children with her.
“For me it was clear: he’d cheated on me. He’s a taxi driver, he moves around a lot, and I had it officially, in black and white,” she told Bild.
In fact, as the authorities later admitted, it was a simple case of mistaken identity. The child support demand was intended for another man of the same name and had been sent to the wrong address.
The district court blamed the error on a mistaken date of birth supplied for the man by the local child support office.
It took the taxi driver months and several desperate letters to the court to clear the matter up. By then, his former partner had moved on.
“We also had other problems. It’s better for everyone the way it is now,” she said.