If I had a penis, I would be mad too.
I feel sorry for Pasqualino Cornelio, who is wearing a crown of multiple horns as the quintessential cuckold. But not because he has to continue paying child support.
As reported yesterday, Mr. Cornelio was ordered by the Ontario Superior Court to continue paying child support to his ex-wife for their 16-year-old twins - despite a DNA test revealing the children he helped raise and support aren't his biological children.
In her ruling, Madam Justice Katherine van Rensburg used an expansive definition of a father under the Family Law Act as "a person who has demonstrated a settled intention to treat a child as a child of his or her family." She wrote that while the mother's infidelity "may have been a moral wrong against Mr. Cornelio, it is a wrong that does not afford him a legal remedy" to get out of his obligations as a father.
Still, the guy was duped by his ex-wife. No question about it. Women always know that their children are theirs. They pass through our bodies, after all. But a man? Well, he just has to hope that the kids are his. If he has suspicions, he has to go on the word of the mother. I can't think of anything more emasculating than discovering that you have been fooled for 16 years.
But it's his ex-wife who should be punished for the betrayal, not the children.
In a calmer moment, perhaps Mr. Cornelio will admit that he would really be a schmuck if he denied his children the only father they have ever known, just because someone else helped conceive them.
Sperm donations do not a father make. Just ask any adopted child. Or ask children who have been loved and supported by a stepfather after their biological dad vamoosed postdivorce. In his celebrated Father's Day address last year, Barack Obama said it best: "What makes you a man is not the ability to have a child - it's the courage to raise one."
Which is what Mr. Cornelio has done. And that's something he can be proud of.
The issue of paternity only went to the lab for DNA testing when Ms. Cornelio recently sought to get an increase in child support and to restrict Mr. Cornelio's access to the children. He had long suspected that the children might not be his, but he never pursued the truth. In fact, he had dutifully paid support since 1998.
Once he discovered that he was not the biological father, there was a possible legal remedy for him - if the identity of the real dad was known.
"Family law provides for that kind of situation," says Harold Niman, a lawyer at Niman Zemans Gelgoot in Toronto and one of Canada's leading family law experts. "The husband could have sought some contribution from the natural father. He could have added him as a party to the proceeding to effectively have that person pay support or at least contribute to that support."
That Ms. Cornelio, perhaps conveniently, couldn't recall who impregnated her - she was on some meds at the time, she says - denied Mr. Cornelio that remedy.
But come on, Ms. Cornelio couldn't remember her lover? Please.
Sounds to me like she was just out to get her ex.
What skin is it off her nose to cough up the name of the guy who could be the real father? That dude could then get a paternity test. If it's proven he is the biological dad, he could help her out by contributing some child support, if that's what she wants so badly. (Unless she's still involved with him, of course.)
And why don't the courts hold women accountable if they dupe a guy into thinking he's the father when he isn't? It's deceit in my books.
That's where the courts don't seem to deliver justice. "Is a woman obligated to disclose the paternity of her child?" Mr. Niman asks. "The law is very murky on that."
Mr. Cornelio clearly wanted to be involved in the lives of his children. The parents had joint custody. But he is angry, and rightly so.
At the very least, what he deserves is an apology from his ex. He has been a hero. With horns.