Virtual Library of Newspaper Articles

The parent trap

In Saskatchewan, a mother's right to give away her baby trumps the father's right to raise it as his own

Macleans Magazine (national magazine), by Chris Selley, January 31, 2007

It's tough not to feel for Adam Hendricks. Upon learning that his former girlfriend was pregnant and that she intended to grant custody of her child to another couple, he began a valiant battle to prove he was the boy's father and gain his custody. Despite receiving what Judge R. S. Smith referred to as "all assistance short of help" from authorities, the 34-year-old Saskatonian of limited means and chequered past stuck to his guns and lost .

On the face of it, it was no contest. Linda and Dave Turner, the Prince Albert, Saskatchewan couple who agreed to a "custody and guardianship agreement" with Rose Swan, Hendricks' former girlfriend, boast an impressive household: 3.5 acres of land, 12 years of marriage, two university degrees, approximately $100,000 in annual income and no debt. (The names of family members have been changed in accordance with a publication ban.)

By contrast, Hendricks can boast a new - if relatively stable - relationship with "Ruth," a "baby-ready" home in Saskatoon, and a grade eight education. While his life appears to be on an upward trajectory, he admits to a history of unstable relationships with "vulnerable women with drug problems and a history of abuse" - all of which, according to Smith's ruling, have "ended somewhere between badly and very badly."

He is unable to corroborate his claim of a $35,000 annual income, likely because he hasn't filed income taxes in three years, either personally or for his courier business. He declared bankruptcy in 2002. During his relationship with Swan, he supplied her with marijuana in an effort to ease her methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms. And his own record of alcohol abuse is punctuated by a DUI conviction and an assault on Swan that ended their relationship.

None of which, of course, changes his biological relationship to the baby known as Ian Turner. "I wasn't trying to win a father of the year award," Hendricks told the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix . "I just wanted to be a father."

Usually, Canadian parents have to fail to meet a certain standard of care - a very low one, judging by recent evidence - before the government will consider taking their children away. But Hendricks isn't being offered the opportunity to try to raise his son, and that doesn't sit well with those who believe biological relationships are of paramount importance.

"In recent cases, the courts have been far more inferential to parents," Brad Hunter, who practices family law in Regina, told The Globe and Mail.

"In this case, the judge placed limited weight on the biological parent's rights. It certainly is contrary to the trend that had increased the rights of biological fathers."

The president of the Canadian Children's Rights Council, went even further. "It means anybody can challenge you on the basis they can provide a better home for the child," he said. "This was not a test about [Hendricks] being such a poor parent. This was a test of one side being better than another."

McGill University's Margaret Somerville, who has argued in the past for children's rights to know and be raised by their biological parents, takes a different view. And she believes much of the media coverage has missed the mark.

"You can't just take a kid and say 'Is it in the best interests to take this kid away from its father? Okay, we'll order it'," she told "You can't do that. It's not how the law works."

"You can't go into best interests until you've decided who's got the primary right of custody," she said. "You have to activate the best interests test through some mechanism."

So in fact, she argues, this was more or less an old-fashioned custody battle with a twist - namely, that if the mother won, she would give the child away to the Turners. "If it was a dispute between the two parents as to whether the mother should get the child or the father, the courts would do a best interests analysis of that, and they'd probably give it to the mother," she said. "Usually they do unless there's some very strong reason not to."

In such analyses, Somerville suggests, blood relation is only one of many factors that need to be considered.

"If you look at the content of what each of them wants, the biological father wants the kid to live with him and the biological mother wants the kid to live with these Turners," she said. "And so in determining who wins - the mother or the father, both biological parents - the courts say what we've got to do is look at the best interests of this child, because that's the test that you apply in custody or adoption proceedings.

University of Saskatchewan Law Professor Greg Walen gave the Globe a somewhat simpler answer. "[Judge Smith] did the right thing at the end of the day," he said. "I think there's an attitude out there that, all things being equal, a child should be placed with a biological parent. But when the scales are so heavy in one favour, it shows a judge is willing to say those ties are not enough. Don't assume that because you are the biological parent of a child you have an automatic right to custody."

Somerville concurs, despite her belief in the biological rights of children. It was still a biological parent who decided what was best for the child, she points out. And though the ruling recommends a one-year period of "familial calm," during which Ian can bond with the Turners free from distractions, Hendricks will thereafter have access to Ian. The Turners are even required to provide him with 30 days' notice if they intend to move.

All of this might be cold comfort for Hendricks, especially since Judge Smith saw in him "the protective instincts of a caring father" and "a willingness to assume the lifelong obligations involved in parenting." But as yet, there has been no talk of an appeal, and it appears he might be willing to live with the judge's decision - one that, for all the controversy, might end up being amenable to all parties.

"I'm open to anything," Hendricks told the Star-Phoenix. "I just want to see my son."

Paternity Fraud
UK National Survey

Paternity fraud survey statistics

Scotland's National Newspaper

96% of women are liars, honest

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.

Infidelity Causes Paternity Fraud

Time magazine - Infidelity - It may be in our genes. Our Cheating Hearts

Infidelity--It may be in our genes. Our Cheating Hearts

Devotion and betrayal, marriage and divorce: how evolution shaped human love.

South Korean Husband Win Paternity Fraud Lawsuit - Associated Press

South Korean Husband Wins Paternity Fraud Lawsuit

Associated Press, USA
June 1, 2004

South Korean husband successfully sues wife for Paternity Fraud and gets marriage annulled.  Wins $42,380 in compensation

Paternity Fraud Philippines

DNA paternity test confirms fraud, annulment granted: judge | Visayan Daily Star Newspaper | Phillipines

DNA test confirms fraud, annulment granted: judge

The Visayan Daily Star, Bacolod City, Philippines, BY CARLA GOMEZ, February 28, 2009

Bacolod Regional Trial Court Judge Ray Alan Drilon has annulled the marriage of a Negrense couple after a DNA test showed that the child borne by the wife was not the biological offspring of the husband who works abroad.

The family court judge ruled that the marriage of the couple, whose names are being withheld by the DAILY STAR on the request of the court, was null and void.

Due to fraud committed by the wife in getting her overseas worker husband to marry her, properties acquired during their marriage are awarded in favor of the husband, the judge said in his decision, a copy of which was furnished the DAILY STAR yesterday.

The judge also declared that since the overseas worker is not the biological, much less the legitimate father of the child of the woman, the Civil Registrar is ordered to change the surname of the child to the mother's maiden name and remove the name of the plaintiff as father of the child.

The complainant said he was working as an electronics engineer in the United Arab Emirates and on his return to the Philippines in 2001, his girlfriend of 10 years with whom he had sex, showed him a pregnancy test result showing that she was pregnant.

On receiving the news he was overjoyed and offered to marry her. Shortly after he went to Saudi Arabia to work, and his wife gave birth to a baby girl in the same year.

The birth of the child only five months after their marriage puzzled him but his wife told him that the baby was born prematurely, so he believed her, the husband said. Read More ..

Paternity Fraud - Spain Supreme Court - Civil Damages

Daily Mail UK

Adulterous woman ordered to pay husband £177,000 in 'moral damages'

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.

BBC logo

Infidelity 'is natural'

BBC, U.K., September 25, 1998

Females 'stray to gather the best possible genes for their offspring'

Infidelity may be natural according to studies that show nine out of 10 mammals and birds that mate for life are unfaithful.

Experts found animals that fool around are only following the urges of biology.

New studies using genetic testing techniques show that even the most apparently devoted of partners often go in search of the sexual company of strangers.

Females stray to gather the best possible genes for their offspring, while males are driven to father as many and as often as possible.

"True monogamy actually is rare," said Stephen T Emlen, an expert on evolutionary behaviour at Cornell University.

Paternity Fraud & the Criminal Code of Canada

Paternity fraud: Is it or should it be a criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada?

You be the judge.