Public support and a crowdfunding effort have apparently helped an Iowa man emerge victorious in a child support case that he initially pegged as a "joke." Per WQAD, Joe Vandusen found out last week he'd won his appeal with the state's Department of Human Resources in a case that started with a letter he received in February from state officials. It noted he was required to make payments for the 1-year-old child of his estranged wife—even though he hadn't seen her for more than 15 years. That's because Iowa law dictates husbands have to pony up cash for any child born during the marriage, and because Vandusen never actually divorced his wife, he was bound by that law. Even though he was up for taking a paternity test to prove the baby wasn't his, Iowa officials said it didn't matter, per a New York Daily News article from March.
"I'm 45 years old. I don't need to be paying 18 years of child support for a child that's not mine," he told the Daily News, adding his wife had told him the baby was the result of a one-night stand. But even though he wanted to fight the payment order, the father of two had just lost his job and didn't have the money for an attorney retainer—until he set up a fundraising page and brought in just under $1,200 to help mitigate the cost. "You have no idea how many people came out of the woodwork after my story aired, it was incredible," he tells WQAD. And now, with the contacts he's made during his experience, he intends to keep fighting. "I want this law changed," he says. "My case may be over … [but] there's a lot of guys there just like me." (Sherri Shepherd has to pay support for the child she once agreed to.)