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Paternity Fraud Legislation Sweeps the Nation

Group Plans Town Hall Meeting in NJ Showing Plight of Victimized Families

MND Newswire, New Jersey, United States, April 30, 2003

A fact that many find astonishing is that many men nationwide are forced by court order to pay child support for other men's children, or face jail time.  These deceived men are referred to as "duped dads" by some.  In 2000, The American Association of Blood Banks found that in almost 30 percent of the paternity tests conducted the man being tested was not the biological father.

These men are victims of paternity fraud. Paternity fraud victims can be married or divorced men as well as unmarried men. Most states, including New Jersey, rely on a 500-year-old English common-law doctrine that says that any child born of a marriage is legally presumed the child of the husband.

Paternity fraud legislation bills are now winding their way through state legislatures across the country, including New Jersey where a vote on paternity fraud bill, Assembly Bill 2374, is scheduled for May, 2003.  

To let the public see for themselves what paternity fraud legislation is really all about, U.S. Citizens Against Paternity Fraud (US -CAPF) and The American Coalition for  Fathers and Children (ACFC) plan:

** a press conference on May, 8, 2003, at Room 209, State House, West State Street, Trenton, at 1 PM, eastern time.

**and a public town hall meeting on May 9, 2003, at 3:00 to 5:00 PM, eastern time, Marriott Hotel, in Trenton, New Jersey.

Planners of the town hall meeting will show the plight of families victimized by paternity fraud. All media, legislators, the general public, and policymakers are encouraged to attend.  Paternity fraud victims are invited to come and tell their story and give their comments. (Contact US - CAPF at www.paternityfraud.com or ACFC at 1-800-978-3237 for details.)

Scheduled to appear at the Trenton, New Jersey town hall meeting are Carnell Smith and Dianna Thompson.

**Carnell Smith, founder and executive director of U.S. Citizens Against Paternity Fraud (US-CAPF), who testified at the California Senate Judiciary proceeding, said of the upcoming New Jersey legislation and a town hall meeting planned by his team:  

"At the town hall meeting, New Jersey will have a similar opportunity, as did California, to see the devastating financial and emotional effects of paternity fraud on families and children. The California hearing was powerful.  Anyone who witnessed that proceeding had to be moved by the suffering of the paternity fraud victims and their families. I don't see how anyone who truly understands the intent of these anti-paternity fraud bills, like the one being considered in New Jersey, could deny these good people relief. These families can't wait.  And, in California, I believe this was reflected in the fact that there was only 1 "no" vote and 1 abstaining."

Smith knows the subject of paternity fraud well. He led the team for the new Georgia paternity fraud law passed in May, 2002, releasing "duped dads" from child support payments for children proven by DNA not to be theirs biologically. Smith finally won his own paternity fraud case after a four-year legal fight including a trip to the U.S. Supreme Court.  As a result, Carnell, his wife Lisa Smith, and child have now been released from a long nightmare.

Dianna Thompson, executive director of The American Coalition for Fathers and Children (ACFC) also testified at the California proceedings where she said, "...We always talk about 'What about the children?', but in a lot of these cases where  men are being made to pay child support for children that aren't theirs, and in a lot of cases they have never met these children, their own biological children suffer as a result of that as well as their wife."  She explains that, "We can use DNA to release an innocent man from death row. We should be able to use DNA testing to clear a man wrongly named as a father and release him from the financial burden of supporting another man's child."

Dianna Thompson is a nationally recognized expert on families and divorce-related issues and an advocate for shared parenting.  She has testified against paternity fraud in several states.

Also appearing at the town hall meeting is Michael Huff, award-winning songwriter and paternity fraud victim, whose song "Real Life (Sarah's Song)", the international theme song of US - CAPF, will be performed live by accomplished musician, David Staton, at the town hall meeting.  This song conveys the powerful and painful emotions of discovering that a child you thought was yours is not yours biologically. Michael Huff wrote about the inspiration for his song: "At that time, and for a long time thereafter, words could not even begin to describe how I felt. I'm sure that's why it took 10 years and many attempts to finally complete it. Once completed, it did provide closure for me, but in my heart, I know I will never get over losing my child. My greatest hope at the time was to be able to get the song out to share with others that have experienced the same terrible ordeal so they would know they are not alone in their situation."

In a moving proceeding in California on April 22, 2003:  Women and men, one holding his infant son, testified about how paternity fraud has profoundly and negatively affected their lives.

Yvette Kee, a former U.S. Marine who served for 4 years, gave moving testimony in support of passage of a California bill that would release certain "duped dads" from being forced to pay child support for children who are not theirs.  Years ago, Yvette's husband, Chaka, while serving in the U.S. Army and unbeknownst to him, became the legal father of another man's child by a default paternity judgment. He is now forced by court order to financially support this child. Yvette and her husband have their own family who they are now supporting.

Yvette spoke of the financial burden of supporting a child who is not theirs and said of her husband, "...His ability to support his own family has been severely impacted. His credit has been ruined, and our dream of owning a home together has not occurred because of that. His income tax refunds have been intercepted.  He 's not able to obtain a passport. ... It's really hard to explain to your family why your husband is not allowed to leave his country because he is supposed to pay support for a child that he did not create. Many people don't believe you when you tell them that this is the reason why sometimes bills are unpaid or there's things that we go without. ... My husband's wages are garnished up to 50 percent ..."

At the end of the witness testimony, the bill passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 5 to 1 (with 1 abstaining). It now moves to the California Senate for a full floor vote.

Maryland, Alabama, and Georgia have progressive paternity legislation laws that release "duped dads" from past and future child support payments for children proven by DNA testing not to be theirs biologically. In addition to New Jersey, anti-paternity fraud legislation has been reintroduced in states including New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, California, Michigan, Colorado, Maine, and Vermont.

Paternity fraud may affect anyone - men, women, and children -in shocking and often  devastating ways:

**One New Jersey woman scheduled to appear at the public town hall meeting will explain how she is forced to declare her soon-to-be ex-husband as the legal father of her child, even though he is not the biological father. Everyone concerned, including the ex-husband, mother, and biological father, wants the real dad to be named on the birth certificate. This demonstrates that biological fathers who were not notified that they have a child and would gladly step up to the plate to be "Dad" can also be victims of paternity fraud. As incredible as it seems, in this case, the biological dad is forced into a position of having no legal rights to his own biological child, and his child is deprived of a biological father. Legally, this father is made a stranger to his own flesh and blood due to an archaic and obsolete legal doctrine.

** There are "duped grandmothers and grandfathers."  When paternity fraud is allowed to exist in a legal system, the child in question and a whole extended family suffer.  This is what motivates one  "duped grandmother" in Pennsylvania who is leading the way for paternity fraud legislation in her state.

**Paternity fraud victims come from all walks of life, including the clergy. Many of our victims are military because while they are away on active duty, they are unable to attend paternity hearings if they are wrongly named as fathers. Even the "The Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act" has not helped them. Military men may also be vulnerable to being falsely named as dads because they have good pay, insurance benefits, and are responsible individuals.

US- CAPF and ACFC encourage all victims to contact them for the press conference and town hall meeting.   Five free DNA tests will be given to selected persons under New Jersey jurisdiction.