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What should you do if you’re a victim of paternity fraud?

On Behalf of | May 24, 2019 | Child Custody

When children are born to unmarried parents, the parentage of the mother is automatically presumed. There’s no implied paternity for fathers, though. It’s generally necessary for a man to take a DNA test to prove that he is indeed the father of a child. It’s possible for a mother to simply place her male partner’s name on a birth certificate in some cases. If the name is incorrect, problems can ensue.

It’s not uncommon for a woman to list a man she thinks or hopes is her child’s biological dad on the birth certificate. Some moms are even well aware that there’s no way that a child belongs to a particular man, yet they list him as the father nonetheless.

If a woman asks a man to sign a birth cerificate or an affidavit of paternity for a child to whom they’re not biologically related, she may be accused of paternity fraud. In some jurisdictions, judges take what’s stated on these documents at face value. If they do, a DNA test isn’t needed to confirm parentage. Judges seldom second-guess whether a chid born to a married couple belongs to both spouses.

Some cases of paternity fraud go unnoticed for many years. Deception is often only uncovered if a child is forced to undergo invasive medical treatment. It’s then that doctors discern that the fathers are unrelated to their kids.

It’s possible for a wrongly identified father to petition a the court to terminate their obligation to pay child support. California law requires courts to make decisions that are in the best interests of children in these matters. This means that they may ultimately decide it’s best that a man who’s not the biological father continue to make child support payments.

A judge is likely to order a non-biological parent to continue making child support payments if they’ve acted as the child’s father or supported them financially for awhile. They may also order them to continue if stopping would make them qualify for government assistance.

Mothers often engage in paternity fraud because there are no legal consequences that they face for doing so. If you feel as if you were wrongly identified as the father of a minor, you should consult with a child custody attorney. They can advise you of the steps that you should take to begin trying to clear up the situation.