Every year thousands of men become victims of paternity fraud. In a noble effort to collect child support from deadbeat dads, our legal system has stacked the deck against accused men in issues of paternity.
Based on a woman’s word alone, the court can order an accused man to pay child support. Even if the child is not his, the court can garnishee his wages and force his employer to deduct child support payments from every paycheck. In some cases the court may place liens on his assets.
Paternity fraud is successful because courts accept the word of the mother no matter how flimsy the evidence. They put the burden of proof on the accused father. If he does not promptly present proof that he is NOT the child’s father, the alleged paternity claim can become an irreversible fact in the eyes of the law.
Why So Many Women Accuse the Wrong Man
Due to multiple partners, cheating on mates, or encounters with strangers, many women cannot be certain who fathered their child. Yet few women will admit to any kind of uncertainty.
Once they discover they are pregnant, usually several months after conception, they think back and make a guess. Or they wait until the child is born and look for clues in the child’s physical appearance.
Wrongful paternity claims also result from additional factors. With more than one possible father, mothers often name the one they would prefer to be the child’s father.
That might be the one they like best or the one most acceptable to their family. Sometimes they choose who they think would make the best father or the one with the deepest pockets for providing child support.
My birth mother was seeing a single man and a married man about the same time. She named the single man, because it was less damaging to her reputation. But DNA testing later proved the married man was my biological father.
A DNA Paternity Test is the Answer
In any situation regarding alleged paternity, a DNA paternity test will get to the truth. When a lab compares the DNA of a child and its alleged father, the answer is unequivocal. Either the man is the father or he is not. Either way, you will know the truth with 100% certainty.
The only exception is identical twins, which have the same DNA. If an alleged father has an identical twin, a positive test result only proves that one of them is the father. The test cannot distinguish between them.
While it’s preferable to also test the mother’s DNA, that is not necessary. Comparing the father and child is enough. It’s even possible to get an answer before the child is born through a prenatal paternity test. That, of course, requires the consent of the mother and the participation of her physician.
Don't Skip the Test
In some states, more than a quarter of the paternity tests involving unwed mothers are negative. In other words, the accused father was innocent one out of four times.
Since most accused fathers don’t push for DNA testing, we know that thousands of men are paying child support for children fathered by someone else.
Paternity fraud is a popular crime because there’s no real penalty for naming the wrong father. Mothers sign their declarations under penalty of perjury. But a major study of this issue could not find a single case where a mother was charged with a crime for naming the wrong man.
Don’t Wait to Test
In many areas a presumed father faces a tight deadline, often 30 days, to respond to a paternity charge. How much time you have to present DNA evidence varies by state. But if that deadline passes, the court automatically issues a default judgment that you are the child’s father. Worse yet, many courts still refuse to reverse a child support judgment even when faced with DNA evidence at a later date.
For a recommended test lab click this link to DNA Findings.
Paternity Fraud Hurts Children Too
An unchallenged paternity claim can hurt the child too. When the wrong man is on the hook, no one is looking for the real father. And if that father knew about his child, he might prove to be a good father in more ways than just child support.
The child of paternity fraud may grow up with an incorrect ethnic identity. Furthermore, the grown child may make health care decisions based on a completely false medical history.
Reform May Be Coming
The current system clearly tramples the rights of innocent people. In some states the pendulum is swinging back toward fairness. Paternity fraud legislation and related legal challenges are going on in more than a dozen states.