Royal Gazette

Last modified: November 07. 2002 10:11AM

Footballer Kyle loses thousands in payments

Royal Gazette (Bermuda)

Paternity pain: Bermuda soccer star Kyle Lighbourne

Professional footballer Kyle Lightbourne sent a stark warning to single dads last night after discovering that the child he has paid more than $50,000 in maintenance for over the last 14 years is not his.

Mr. Lightbourne, who plays for Macclesfield Town in the Third Division of the English football league, said a blood test in Bermuda this summer had proved what he had always believed that he was not the father of the teenager.

Now he is fighting to have his name taken off the child's birth certificate and to have some of his money repaid.

However he said the courts had told the child's mother that she did not have to repay the cash, which meant he would probably be left thousands out of pocket.

And he said despite two dates being set for his name to be taken off the birth certificate, it had still not been done.

"I have paid for this child for almost all of its (dependent) life, yet someone else is the father, and that is wrong," said Mr. Lightbourne.

"I tried for years to get the mother to have a blood test, but she would not, and it was very difficult for me, being out of Bermuda most of the time.

"So, all this time I have been paying. It has been very frustrating for me.

"I know a lot of other people are out there in the same situation and I would just encourage them to have the tests carried out as soon as possible. Don't wait as long as I did. Get it sorted immediately."

The centre forward, who left Bermuda to play professional soccer about ten years ago, said he had a brief relationship with the woman when he was 19 and some months later the baby was born.

However, he said in the time he was with the woman, he had never trusted her and so always felt unsure about the identity of the child's father.

He said he asked for paternity tests on a number of occasions, but was always flatly denied by the mother, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child.

The soccer player said he tried to put his doubts to the back of his mind and treated the child as his, but he always felt something was wrong.

Mr. Lightbourne said for the first four years he paid the mother $360 a month, as well as buying clothes and other belongings for the child.

However, he said when he left the Island to live in England, he reduced his payments to $200 a month and refused to pay more until she agreed to a blood test.

When Mr. Lightbourne married his wife RoseMarie seven years ago, the mother took him to court demanding that he pay extra maintenance, but again, he told the court he would not pay more until after they had blood tests.

He said he told the court that if a blood test did prove him to be the father, he would hand over the back pay in a lump sum.

However, he never got the opportunity to find out.

"After that, the mother dropped the case and said we should just keep everything as it was, with me paying $200 a month" said Mr. Lightbourne.

This summer, Mr. Lightbourne returned to Bermuda on vacation with his wife and their two children and decided to finally insist on the blood tests. It cost him $900.

In September, the results came back and he discovered that he was not the child's father.

"When I got the results, I had to sit down for a little while because it really upset me," said Mr. Lightbourne.

"It was something I had always feared, and when I finally got confirmation it knocked me back.

"I don't really have a relationship with the child. I have lived outside of Bermuda for most of its life, but I have always paid on time.

"I feel I should be compensated, at least a little bit.

"I don't expect the full amount back, because I know that would be a tall order, but I do think the courts should have ordered her to pay me some kind of compensation after everything I have been through."

Mr. Lightbourne said the mother had told him earlier that if he turned out not to be the father, she would pay him every cent back. However, he said since the court had told her she did not need to pay, she had offered him nothing.

But he said he believed the courts should have a deterrent in place to stop women doing this in the future.

"All I got back was the $900 I paid for the blood tests," said Mr. Lightbourne.

"I think there should be some sort of consequence in place for women who refuse to get blood tests and then find out that the man who has been paying is not the father.

"I don't think I'm being harsh. I'm not asking for the full amount. It's the principle here that counts."

Mr. Lightbourne said the only reason he had revealed his story publicly was to help other men in the same situation.

And he and his wife have contacted the Child Watch group for help, which is lobbying with other groups to ensure that men get equal rights when it comes to child custody and maintenance matters in courts.

Health and Family Services Minister Nelson Bascome said he was saddened to hear of Mr. Lightbourne's case and suggested men in that situation pursue the real fathers.

He said the courts in Bermuda followed other countries in not demanding that the mothers repay previous maintenance payments, but said judges on the Island were increasingly demanding blood tests be carried out where doubt had been raised.

And he advised men to speak up in court if they did have doubts about the identity of the father.

He said: "This is one of the areas that is addressed in the Children's Amendment Act, which we have been working on with the legal fraternity, courts and advocacy groups.

"All of the organisations feel that paternity must be certain when moving forward with any of the basics," said Mr. Nelson.

"I think most times the courts would go on the side of the mother and say they don't have to pay, but a legal mind would want to go after someone. I would say pursue the real father.

"But I think now the courts are demanding more people have blood tests, and the tests are becoming more common. Hopefully, this won't happen in future."

The Royal Gazette attempted to call the mother of the child at work yesterday, but the call was not returned.

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