Who's your daddy?
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
TV PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT
Broadcast: November 22, 2004
Reporter: Emma Alberici
KERRY O'BRIEN: Last year, more than 3,000 DNA paternity tests were commissioned by Australian men, and in almost a quarter of those cases, the test revealed that not only had their partners been unfaithful, but the children they thought were theirs had been sired by someone else.
Next week, the Supreme Court in Victoria will hear an appeal from a woman who was successfully sued by her ex-husband for so-called paternity fraud.
Emma Alberici examines the ramifications of this landmark case and, in the interests of the children concerned, we've masked identities, changed names and used dramatisations to tell their stories.
PETER: I was pretty happy with the family and that.
I was married and had four kids and everything was pretty good.
I had a good job and, um, I think I was pretty complete, actually, my life with four kids.
EMMA ALBERICI: Peter's life had appeared so complete that after three children and, with the full support of his wife, he had a vasectomy.
But six months later his wife was pregnant again, blaming the doctor for botching his operation.
That was six years ago, when Peter was happily married.
His mother wasn't as trusting and after her son's recent divorce she picked some strands from the youngest child's hair and sent them, together with some nail clippings, to Melbourne's DNA Solutions lab for testing.
PETER: The ex-wife told me that it was still my child and the vasectomy had failed.
EMMA ALBERICI: And you believed that?
PETER: Yeah, why shouldn't I?
EMMA ALBERICI: The results confirmed his mother's suspicions - the 6-year-old was not her biological granddaughter.
Days later she had her youngest grandson tested too, taking saliva swabs and sending them off in the mail.
Tests on all four children revealed that only the eldest boy was biologically his.
What happened to you at that point?
PETER: I was a mess.
I was shattered.
EMMA ALBERICI: Now the Law Reform Commission wants to restrict access to DNA paternity testing, despite the fact that one in four tests, like Peter's, is a biological mismatch.
PROFESSOR LOANE SKENE, UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE: And there's no counselling being given to them and they're getting this devastating information and they may go and commit suicide or be violent towards the mother of the child.
That's the situation that we need the law to protect by a requirement that the mother's consent is necessary as well as the father's.
EMMA ALBERICI: Loane Skene is a professor of law at Melbourne University and was a leading consultant on the Law Reform Commission report which calls for a new criminal offence to prohibit anyone from having children's DNA mapped without the consent of both parents or subject to a court order.
Of the 3,000 tests that were carried out last year in Australia, just 221 of them were ordered by the court.
Men's Rights Agency spokeswoman Sue Price believes the ALRC has not considered those presumed fathers who have nothing to gain but peace of mind.
SUE PRICE,MEN'S RIGHTS AGENCY: Many mothers are reluctant to agree to paternity test because, of course, if they do agree and the child turns out not to be the father's - the man's child - they face prosecution, as in the case of Liam McGill.
TONY EASTLEY READS NEWS: A Melbourne man has successfully sued his former wife after discovering he wasn't the biological father of two of their children.
EMMA ALBERICI: Two years ago Liam McGill became the first Australian to successfully sue his ex-wife for paternity fraud.
The Victorian Supreme Court awarded him $70,000 for pain and suffering which is now up for appeal.
But the court could do nothing to compensate him he'd paid in child support over eight years for two children who were proved not to be his.
Peter will be watching the appeal closely on November 29th as he, too, intends to sue.
PETER: The big part tells me not to let her get away with it, because it is so wrong.
EMMA ALBERICI: Do you think the other bloke should take a bit of responsibility here?
PETER: Yeah, not only has he lied to me.
But he's lied to the children and lied to his family as well.
EMMA ALBERICI: But like Liam McGill, he can only sue for pain and suffering, despite making child support payments for children who were not biologically his, there is no provision in the law to recover that.
PROFESSOR LOANE SKENE: I think there is a good argument, while we have the law as it is, at the moment where the liability to pay maintenance is based on biological connection, but if there isn't a biological connection and the man had no duty to pay that money then he should be recompensed.
EMMA ALBERICI: While Loane Skene has some sympathy for the men who are betrayed by their wives, she's convinced that all are better served where mutual consent for DNA testing is mandatory - something that would make it more difficult for other men to follow Peter's path.
PETER: You're supposed to have both parties' consent but I don't think I would have got consent from the other side whatsoever.
EMMA ALBERICI: Why not?
PETER: She would have known that she'd been deceiving me.
MICHAEL GILDING, CENTRE FOR EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES: If we become a lot more prohibitive or restrictive about access to these tests, I think a lot of the tests will go offshore.
EMMA ALBERICI: Wedged in the middle of the debate between angry men and the Law Reform Commission is Michael Guilding from the Centre for Emerging Technologies.
He disagrees with the notion of mutual consent.
MICHAEL GILDING: Another pathway might be drawing a distinction between knowledge and consent.
According to this scenario we say that both parents have the right to the knowledge that a test is being undertaken but a parent can't necessarily stop that test being undertaken.
PROFESSOR LOANE SKENE: I think that we shouldn't be talking about rights in these circumstances.
It's really a balancing of interests.
EMMA ALBERICI: Professor Loane Skene believes a child's interest is better served by keeping them in a happy family than by facilitating access to knowledge that could spoil that harmony.
Shouldn't children have a right to know their bloodlines, if for no other reason so they have their medical history, indeed they don't end up marrying a sibling they didn't know about?
PROFESSOR LOANE SKENE: Well, if this were the case, one might mount an argument for parentage testing immediately on birth for all children.
Since we know anecdotally that quite a large percentage of children are not in fact the biological child of the people they think is their father, why upset all of those children in circumstances where they might have happy lives?
EMMA ALBERICI: It's an attitude that rankles Sue Price of the Men's Right Agency in Brisbane which receives scores of letters each week from men looking for help when a wife is unfaithful and then makes them pay to raise another man's children.
They support the notion of paternity testing at birth to ensure that what's written on a birth certificate is accurate.
SUE PRICE: Surely we shouldn't be supporting a person who is committing a fraud and deceiving someone into believing they are the father of the child?
Surely we should be supporting his right to know whether he is the father and also the child's right to know who is their father?
EMMA ALBERICI: While the family is happy, the Law Reform Commission says a secret that might disrupt that shouldn't be told.
But concealing a lie for so long can have dreadful consequences when it's unearthed, as it did for Peter.
The news that three of his four children were not biologically his led to a suicide attempt and at just 36 even if he does find another partner the vasectomy means he's unlikely to sire any more children.
Do your children know the truth?
PROFESSOR LOANE SKENE: As far as I know, no.
I voluntarily decided not the see them so they wouldn't see me in this situation.
EMMA ALBERICI: What's situation is that?
PETER: Being more or less a mental wreck.
It's pretty hard for them to understand why their father's crying and carrying on, totally lost.
EMMA ALBERICI: Why do you or the kids need to know this?
PETER: They can't to go through life not knowing the truth.
EMMA ALBERICI: Does it change anything?
PETER: My feelings towards them?
None whatsoever, not towards the children, anyway.
UK National Survey
Scotland's National Newspaper
5,000 women polled
Half the women said that if they became pregnant by another man but wanted to stay with their partner, they would lie about the baby's real father.
Forty-two per cent would lie about contraception in order to get pregnant, no matter the wishes of their partner.
The article contains info about children's identity fraud at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
December 14, 2002.
Includes interview with employees of Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, Canada who admit they deny children's identity information to husbands/male partners of mothers who want to hide the real identity of their child because they had an affair. The U.N. Convention on the Rights of The Child specifically supports a child's human right to have a relationship with both his/her biological parents. In addition, this article is proof that The Hospital for Sick Children ("Sick Kids") supports paternity fraud.
Further "Sick Kids" supports a mother's rights only, which they view, supersedes 3 other people's rights, namely, the rights of the biological father, the rights of the mother's male partner/husband and the child's identity rights.
Up to one in 25 dads could unknowingly be raising another man's child, UK health researchers estimate.
Increasing use of genetic testing for medical and legal reasons means Read More ..uples are discovering the biological proof of who fathered the child.
The Liverpool John Moores University team reached its estimate based on research findings published between 1950 and 2004.
The study appears in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
Professor Mark Bellis and his team said that the implications of so-called paternal discrepancy were huge and largely ignored, even though the incidence was increasing.
In the US, the number of paternity tests increased from 142,000 in 1991 to 310,490 in 2001.
The Daily Mail, UK
18th February 2009
An adulterous Spanish woman who conceived three children with her lover has been ordered to pay £177,000 in 'moral damages' to her husband.
The cuckolded man had believed that the three children were his until a DNA test eventually proved they were fathered by another man.
The husband, who along with the other man cannot be named for legal reasons to protect the children's identities, suspected his second wife may have been unfaithful in 2001.
Sydney Morning Herald, Australia
January 15, 2009
BEAUTIFUL women who have affairs can now blame it on their sex hormones.
Women with higher levels of oestradiol, a form of oestrogen, not only look and feel Read More ..tractive, they are also more likely to cheat on their partners, a new study has found.
One-night-stands are not what interest these flirtatious females, who tend to have bigger breasts, relatively small waists and symmetrical faces as a result of their high levels of oestradiol.
Rather, they adopt a strategy of serial monogamy, say the researchers, led by Kristina Durante of the University of Texas. Read More ..
Paternity fraud: Is it or should it be a criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada?
You be the judge. Read More ..
Independent Women's Forum
Feminist organizations including the National Organization of Women (NOW) has objected to legislation that requires the courts to vacate paternity judgments against men who arent, in fact, the father.
Think about that. NOW wants some man, any man, to make child support payments. The woman who doesnt even know who the father is, should not be held responsible for her actions, is a sweet, loving, blameless mother who seeks only to care for her child and if naming some schmuck as father who never saw her before in his life helps her provide for the innocent babe, well then, that's fine.
Innocence is no excuse. Pay up. Read More ..
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
TV PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT
Broadcast: November 22, 2004
Last year, more than 3,000 DNA paternity tests were commissioned by Australian men, and in almost a quarter of those cases, the test revealed that not only had their partners been unfaithful, but the children they thought were theirs had been sired by someone else. Read More ..
The Sunday Times
March 27, 2005
IT sounded too good to be true and it was.
The fairytale that saw Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott reunited with the son he thought he had given up for adoption 27 years ago, ABC sound-recordist Daniel O'Connor, ended this week when DNA tests confirmed another man had fathered Mr O'Connor.
The revelations were devastating for all involved, not least Mr O'Connor.
Still reeling from the emotional reunion with his mother, Kathy Donnelly, and Mr Abbott a few months ago, a simple test of truth has thrown the trio into disarray a situation familiar to thousands of other Australians.
Paternity testing in Australia is a burgeoning industry.
The simplicity of the test cells are collected from a mouth swab grossly underestimates the seriousness of the situation.
18 March, 2005
Proposed new laws will make it easier for fathers to recover child maintenance payments if DNA testing reveals that they are not the child's father.
The Family Law Amendment Bill 2005 allows people who wrongly believed they were the parent of a child to recover any child maintenance paid or property transferred under an order of a court under the Family Law Act 1975 .
"The bill is intended to make it easier for people who find themselves in this position to take recovery action without the need to initiate separate proceedings for an order from a court of civil jurisdiction, such as a State, Local or Magistrates court," Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said. Read More ..
USA TODAY, by Martin Kasindorf, December 12, 2002
An acid sense of betrayal has been gnawing at Damon Adams since a DNA test showed that he is not the father of a 10-year-old girl born during his former marriage.
"Something changes in your heart," says Adams, 51, a dentist in Traverse City, Mich. "When she walks through the door, you're seeing the product of an affair."
But Michigan courts have spurned the DNA results Adams offered in his motions to stop paying $23,000 a year in child support. Now, Adams is lobbying the state Legislature for relief and joining other men in a national movement against what they call "paternity fraud." Read More ..
Up to three million Britons may be wrong about who their real father is , experts claim. But using DNA paternity tests to discover the truth can cause its own problems.
BBC, U.K., May 16, 2003
Dad's got blue eyes, Baby brown...
When Tessa found out she was pregnant after fertility treatment, she felt a mix of delight and doubt.
This wasn't simply pre-baby nerves - she suspected that her husband might not be the father. For Tessa had started sleeping with a colleague when the stress of the ongoing treatment became too much.
Keen to build a family with her husband, she let him believe the baby was his. But her lover threatened to reveal all if she ended the affair, and Tessa soon fell pregnant again. This time, her lover started to make nuisance calls to her home.
Tessa had no choice but to tell her husband. "I said to him, 'I've had an affair and you may not be the father of my children.' So with that, he went up the stairs, got dressed and left. And that was it," Tessa says in Women Who Live a Lie, a programme for the BBC's Five Live Report.
THERE IS A story I used to find hilarious in my high school years about a not too bright man. He was light skinned, his wife was of similar hue, but their first child was born with very dark complexion (darker dan Bello, blacker dan Blakka).
When the man wondered aloud about the baby's complexion his wife assured him that the child was born dark because the child was conceived in darkness (they had sex with the lights off). The man accepted the explanation. Because he loved his wife dearly, he also ignored the fact that the child had other obvious signs of resemblance to the young dark skinned man who did their gardening. To fix the problem, the husband put flood lights, strobe lights, spotlights and forty other lights in the bed room so there would be no more darkness to create dark babies.
"Supporters of paternity identification bills point to a 1999 study by the American Association of Blood Banks that found that in 30 percent of 280,000 blood tests performed to determine paternity, the man tested was not the biological father." Read More ..
Volume of testing 310,490 for the 2001 study
The Supreme Court of Canada -
Cour suprÃªme du Canada
Father wins right to be named on birth registration forms. Read More ..
Michael Lautar was devastated when he learned his first wife was cheating on him, and then crushed to discover the then 5-year-old girl who called him "Daddy" wasn't really his daughter.
Next came the sucker punch.
Lautar is under court order to pay nearly $800 a month in child support and other expenses, despite the fact his ex-wife has admitted in Allegheny County court papers that Lautar is not the girl's father. The child was born during their marriage. After the couple divorced, the mother married the girl's biological father. The mother, the father and the daughter live together in Moon, according to papers filed in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.
"I'm stuck in this rip-off, this fraud," said Lautar, 40, of North Strabane. "It's paternity fraud, is what it is. ... And the state is enforcing this fraud." Read More ..