Virtual Library of Newspaper Articles

Mothers must tell the truth

The Australian, Australia's national newspaper, March 23, 2005

IT has been called sex, lies and DNA. That complex web snared Tony Abbott when, on Monday, he revealed that the son he was reunited with just a few months ago was not his son. Abbott's anguish, his shock and disappointment, as he faced cameras was only too real. Recall the beaming Abbott when just a month ago he talked about "my boy" Daniel O'Connor. It is impossible to imagine the even greater torment that O'Connor is now confronting.

While the Abbott saga has mesmerised the nation, other cases slide under the radar. This is a web that entraps more men and children than we may care to believe. And when the tangled skein involves deliberate deceit, the devastation is often worse.

Consider the case of Liam Magill. When his wife Meredith gave birth to two babies, each born with blue eyes and blond hair, Liam assumed they were his. He had no reason to think otherwise. He signed the birth certificates as any new father does. He cared for the children, loved them, cherished them as most fathers do. But Liam's world fell apart when he discovered neither child was his.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, Liam, who still loves the children, wanted Meredith to be held accountable for years of dreadful deception. He went to court seeking damages for deceit – recompense for expenses he incurred and for the pain and suffering he endured. But last Thursday, the Victorian Court of Appeal tossed out his claim, overturning an earlier decision that awarded him $70,000 for paternity fraud.

Emotionally shattered, Liam will say only that March 17, 2005, should be remembered as a day of infamy for Australia's legal system. And perhaps it should. Before dismissing Liam as a disgruntled litigant, these are the undisputed facts.

Liam and Meredith married on April 9, 1988. The first of three children was born in April 1989. From September 1989 until early 1995, Meredith had regular unprotected sex with a secret lover. The Court of Appeal agreed that Meredith was "having Rmore frequent sex with her lover than . . . her husband". On July 30, 1990, a son, Heath, was born. On November 27, 1991, a daughter, Bonnie, was born. Meredith and Liam separated in November 1992 and Liam made child support payments for more than five years. In 1995 Meredith admitted to Liam her concerns over paternity. In 1999 they agreed to DNA tests and in April 2000 Liam learned the sad truth. Heath and Bonnie were not his children.

Then last week Liam learned that the law will not hold Meredith accountable for her deceit. Careful to say that the law of deceit may apply to other cases of paternity fraud, the judges shied away from finding it here. They said Liam was not induced to act on the deceit. It is a surprising decision because it is hard to imagine a clearer case of a man suffering loss through paternity deceit.

Feminists were delighted with the result. On ABC Radio's PM program, Joanna Fletcher from the Victorian Women's Legal Service described the litigation as an "ugly affair" that should never have proceeded. "It's bad for children," she said. "You really have to ask how damaging it must be for the children of this marriage to have the man that they've always known as their father suing their [mother] for an injury and for return of money spent on them . . . really saying to them that he got no benefit or joy out of his relationship with them."

She would say that. The VWLS funded a large chunk of this long legal battle. While Liam sold his house to pay for the litigation, federal and Victorian taxpayers funded Meredith. (And when that dried up, Clayton Utz took up the case on a pro bono basis.)

The VWLS has argued that Meredith's defence deserved to be funded by the public purse. But what precisely is the public interest in defending paternity fraud? That women should be left alone to go about their deceit without penalty, striving for a world without consequences? If there is a public interest, it is one that says men have the right not to be duped into playing dad.

Feminists who argue for special pleading for women, who fight to lower the bar of responsibility for women, do nothing for women's equality. Indeed, if feminism is reduced to this, expect many to turn away. Every dollar spent defending deceit is a dollar not available for a more worthy case.

More important, how does defending deceit protect the interests of children? By denying men the right to know and by not penalising the mother for deceit, we end up giving women the right to deceive. That cannot be good for children.

Feminists seem to draw upon the interests of children only when it suits them. Concerns about children were thin on the ground when Kerry Melchior went to the High Court arguing that her healthy baby, born after a botched sterilisation, was unwanted and a financial burden. She said that although she loved her child, she should not have to pay for its upkeep. The court agreed and awarded Melchior damages.

Clearly that case encourages parents to come to court to belittle the birth and life of their child to boost their damages claim.

To her credit, feminist Eva Cox joined ethicists and psychologists who were concerned that this case labels a child as a burden. But for others such as University of Sydney law professor Regina Graycar, this was a woman correcting an injustice. Yet when Liam Magill claims damages for deceit, we are told he is seeking revenge. Paternity fraud spawns many victims. A father loses a child he thought was his. Children suffer as the family they once knew collapses around them.

And women lose out, too. Cheryl King, Liam's second wife, has had to pick up the pieces – emotional and financial – of the deceit. In pure numbers, the extent of paternity fraud is staggering. Firms that carry out DNA tests say that 20 to 30 per cent of DNA tests done for men who have doubts about paternity reveal that they are not the biological father.

With a time bomb waiting to explode, we need clear messages to remind women that deceiving men into fatherhood is unacceptable. Last week federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock introduced legislation making it easier for men who discover they are not the father of a child to recover child maintenance payments and property transferred in family law settlements.

The next step is convincing courts to hold women accountable for deceit over 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.

Paternity Fraud - TV Show - Canada

CBC News Sunday

Paternity Fraud TV Show
CBC News: Sunday

CBC News Sunday- TV Show - paternity Fraud - Canadian Children's Rights Council - Judith Huddart

An indepth look at paternity fraud, men's and children's rights. 10 minutes.

This segment of CBC News: Sunday was on a paternity fraud case in which the husband was ordered to pay child support for 2 children which weren't his biological children.

Globe and Mail - Paternity Fraud statistics for Canada

Canada's largest
national newspaper

Mommy's little secret

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.

BBC News logo

One in 25 fathers 'not the daddy'

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.

Biological father
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.

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.

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.

Independent Women's Forum

Who Knows Father Best?

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

Broadcast: November 22, 2004

Who's Your Daddy?

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 ..

Independent Women's Forum

Who Knows Father Best?

Feminist organizations including the National Organization of Women (NOW) has objected to legislation that requires the courts to vacate paternity judgments against men who aren't, 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 ..

Paternity Fraud Australia

Fathers May Get Money Back in Paternity Fraud Cases

18 March, 2005
FindLaw, Australia

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.

Paternity Fraud

Sunday Times

DNA: Why the truth can hurt

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.

USA Today

Men wage battle on 'paternity fraud'

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 ..