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'Duped dads' fight back in paternity cases

Post-Dispatch, JEFFERSON CITY BUREAU, Missouri, USA, By Matt Franck, April 10, 2007

JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri, USA  €” David Salazar is what many would call a "duped dad."

Repeatedly, courts have ordered him to pay child support for a 5-year-old girl, even though no one €” not a judge and not the child's mother €” claims he's the father.

In the eyes of many, Salazar, of Buchanan County, is the victim of a law that traps men into the child support payments, even though they can prove they're not the dads.

Now, cases such as Salazar's are inspiring legislation in Missouri and across the country that would make it easier for men to use genetic tests to shed financial support. Advertisement

Salazar doesn't have that option now. Under Missouri law, he was presumed to be a father simply because he was married to the mother when she gave birth.

The same law gives men, both married and unmarried, a limited time frame to challenge paternity. After those deadlines have passed, even DNA tests often aren't enough to shake paternity obligations.

Salazar's attorney says felons have Read More ..ghts when it comes to using genetic evidence to overturn court rulings.

"It's a sad day when someone can use DNA tests to walk out of prison, and yet with my client they don't want to check the DNA," attorney Merle Turner said.

But critics of the Missouri bill say walking out of prison and walking out on a father-child relationship are two different things.

They say the Missouri bill ignores the damage that's done when a man abruptly severs parental ties. They also say courts should consider emotional bonds, and not just DNA evidence, as they enforce the definition of fatherhood.

"Someone who has functioned as a dad for many years should not be able to disestablish paternity just with biology," said Melanie Jacobs, a law professor at Michigan State University.

Truth as a guide

That kind of statement angers Sen. Chris Koster, who is sponsoring the Missouri bill.

Koster, R-Harrisonville, said he knew children would be harmed as men used DNA to break paternity. But he said the current law mocked justice by pretending that a man is a father even when the evidence proves otherwise.

He said current law set meaningless deadlines, forgetting that men may not learn for years that they were lied to by mothers. His bill would allow men to bring forward DNA evidence at any time to prove they are not obligated to pay child support.

Missouri law presumes a married man is the father of children born in wedlock.

That presumption is often cemented during a divorce, as courts set child support. After that, men have a year to dispute a legal finding of paternity.

The law is a bit more complicated when a mother is single. In some of those cases, men voluntarily list themselves as the father.

In other cases, the issue of paternity is fought out in court, with DNA evidence being used to resolve disputes. Often, the state enters the fray, seeking child support payments for children who receive public assistance.

But in disputed cases, men in Missouri have only 60 days to object to being named a father. After that, they must prove they were the victims of fraud in order to fight a paternity finding.

Critics say the current system penalizes fathers who fail to immediately question the faithfulness of a wife or girlfriend.

"If he doesn't find out early on that he is indeed the biological father, the fact that he trusted the mother would be used against him," said Carnell Smith, a man from Georgia who now leads a national effort to change paternity laws.

It's unclear how many men are involved in paternity disputes each year nationwide. But the Internet is brimming with sites on paternity fraud, such as the one Smith maintains to push legislation and offer men advice on genetic tests.

Smith himself said he was the victim of deception by his ex-wife. After the divorce, he grew suspicious as to whether he was truly the father of an 11-year-old girl. DNA evidence confirmed he was not, after he had paid $100,000 in child support.

Smith said he wanted to maintain a relationship with the girl he once thought was his daughter, he just didn't want to pay for her support. But he said the mother would not allow visits.

The bonding issue

Linda Elrod, director of the Children and Family Law Center at Washburn University, said she was saddened by cases where DNA evidence was used to challenge paternity. She said the cases not only cut off support payments but often ruptured a mature parental bond.

"I think it is a crime to be doing this when the child is 12 years old," she said.

Others, such as Jacobs, want to set a two-year deadline for using genetic tests to challenge paternity. She said courts also needed the discretion to weigh the quality of a parental relationship and the best interest of a child.

But Koster said such arguments by law professors ignored the fundamental truth in many cases €” that the man is not the father and should not be obligated to pretend he is.

"It would be just as arbitrary to hang the responsibility of supporting the child with those professors," he said.

Koster said he was inspired to file the bill after hearing about the Salazar case.

In that case, Salazar did not reply to court notices seeking more than $13,000 in child support. Salazar could not be reached for comment.

Turner, his attorney, said he was largely uneducated and did not understand the court process. But she said that shouldn't have mattered, because even the mother had said in court that he wasn't the father.

Koster's bill has cleared the Senate committee but has yet to be debated on the floor. If approved, Missouri would join Ohio, Florida and Georgia in approving similar laws.

As legislation is passed, Smith said he would like states to move to eliminate paternity disputes before they even begin by mandating DNA tests of all newborns €” even if parents were married.

Koster said he didn't believe Missouri was prepared for such a law, especially because it could destroy marriages in the delivery room.

But the idea of paternity tests at birth has support among some of the same child advocates who oppose Koster's DNA bill.

"It's going to create some sad people in the delivery room," Elrod said. "But is that better or worse than having a father tell a 10-year-old, 'I'm not going to see you anymore?"

The bill is SB55.

RELATED LINK Missouri bill on establishing paternity

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.

BBC News logo

Who's the Daddy?

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.

paternity fraud in Jamaica

Would you wear the jacket?

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.

Children's Identity Fraud
Paternity Fraud

Duped Dads, Men Fight Centuries-Old Paternity Laws

United States

"Duped Dads, Men Fight Centuries-Old Paternity Laws"

"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 ..

AABB logo

Download / view pdf file
American Association of Blood Banks
Parentage Testing Program Unit
Annual Report Summary Testing in 2001

Volume of testing 310,490 for the 2001 study

The Supreme Court of Canada -
Cour suprême du Canada

Big win for child identity rights.

Father wins right to be named on birth registration forms. Read More ..

Paternity Fraud

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Tricked 'fathers' may get bill's help

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."