Virtual Library of Newspaper Articles

States Consider Laws Against Paternity Fraud

Child Advocates Worry About Effects

Washington Post, by Robert E. Pierre, Staff Writer, Monday, October 14, 2002; Page A03

LANSING, Mich. -- Edward L. Mack was floored to learn just weeks after his divorce that two of the three children born during his 10-year marriage were fathered by another man. He was even Read More ..ocked that the discovery -- under Michigan law -- meant nothing. A year later, he still pays $375 a month in child support for all three children.

"I don't think it's fair for me to have to take care of somebody else's children when she went out and slept with another man," said Mack, 55, pastor of the Spiritual Israel Church & Its Army Temple No. 8 in Detroit. "I still love the children because it's not their fault. But think about how you would feel."

In Michigan, as in most other states, the children born during a marriage are the legal responsibility of the husband. And even for single men, once paternity is acknowledged or established through the courts, it is next to impossible to change. Prosecutors and many children's advocates contend that is the way it ought to be to keep from unduly traumatizing innocent children by snatching away their emotional and financial support.

But across the country, including in the Michigan legislature, a push is underway to institute "paternity fraud" laws. The new legislation would cancel mandated child support payments -- and arrearages -- for men who can prove through DNA testing that they are supporting children who are not their flesh and blood. In some cases, the laws would provide criminal penalties for women who willingly lie about the father of their children.

"It's a legal fraud," said state Rep. James L. Koetje (R), who is sponsoring the legislation that has passed overwhelmingly in Michigan's House of Representatives. "The state should not condone or perpetuate a legal fiction." 

Advocates of the new laws -- mostly men such as Mack with a personal grievance -- contend change is needed to prevent the exploitation of men by women who are promiscuous, get pregnant and then choose who they want the father to be, often based on how much money the men have. Some are pushing for mandatory testing in all unmarried births, and before any child support order is established, because most are completed without the man even appearing in court.

They point to studies by groups such as the American Association of Blood Banks, which found in 1999 that nearly 30 percent of 280,000 paternity cases evaluated excluded the alleged father as the biological parent.

"There is an epidemic sweeping this nation," Carnell A. Smith, founder and executive director of U.S. Citizens Against Paternity Fraud, testified before a Michigan Senate hearing recently. Smith said he, too, is a paternity fraud victim and now travels the country seeking legislative reform.

"It causes havoc, emotional harm and social harm," he said. "Many states have chosen to look the other way and pretend the problem does not exist."

At least 30 states have laws presuming a child born to a married couple is the man's. He can challenge that presumption in court, but most states have a statute of limitations, some as long as 10 years. Maryland and Ohio for years have allowed men unlimited time to challenge paternity using DNA testing. Georgia and California passed similar legislation this year, and several other states are considering the move.

The basis of most state law on the presumption of fatherhood is a 500-year-old doctrine in English common law designed to spare children in medieval England from being labeled as illegitimate, and therefore endowed with virtually no rights. But there is also recent history at play. As part of welfare reform efforts, states have cracked down on "deadbeat dads," forcing single women to name the fathers of their children so that taxpayers aren't left to pay for child support. 

In California, a law governing unmarried births says there is a "compelling state interest in establishing paternity for all children," to ensure health coverage, social security and inheritance rights.

Many children advocates argue there must be some time limit after which men cannot contest their parental responsibility.

"At some point there is a societal need for the paternity of a child to be established with some degree of certainty," said Christi Goodman, program manager of the children and families program for the National Conference of State Legislatures. "If a man has held a child for three years as his own, he has to say that, 'Even if he's not actually my kid, I've loved and supported him for three years, and at this point he is my son even if he's not my biological child.' It's really no different from adoption in that sense."

The Michigan Federation for Children and Families has argued that the proposed legislation would make adoptions more difficult because it adds an additional layer of uncertainty if paternity cannot be established with some finality.

Child support officials worry it would upend efforts to collect legitimate child support. And the State Bar of Michigan said the state would do Read More ..rm than good by passing the bill.

"While this would seem to be a matter of fundamental fairness toward the man, it is a disastrous result when viewed from the perspective of the child," said John F. Mills, an attorney who represents the Michigan Bar's family law section. "It would eliminate child support for those children with perhaps no recourse to an alternate means of support."

But to the fathers, it's an issue of justice. A father in New Jersey has rented out a billboard to bring attention to the issue there, forming an organization and soliciting support for more than $50,000 worth of billboards and newspaper ads. 

And in Michigan, Murray Davis formed Dads of Michigan to help other men who are in the same situation. A month after his marriage of 20 years split up in 1995, Davis learned that two of his three children were the biological children of his now-former best friend. He keeps in close contact with his children, but got parental rights and child support orders terminated. He wants to help others do the same.

"We are a country of laws that should equally protect the innocent and hold the guilty responsible," Davis said in testimony before a Michigan Senate committee hearing recently. "Why should we continue to pursue, incarcerate or hold in financial bondage an individual who can prove his innocence via irrefutable evidence? Men are just kind of tired of being victimized."

2002 The Washington Post Company

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.

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.

Sydney Morning Herald

Biology, not heart, provokes women's infidelity

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 more attractive, 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.

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 ..

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.

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.

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 ..