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What is paternity fraud?

The birth of a child is nearly always met with happiness and joy for the parents of the newborn, as well as each's respective families. For married couples, the child's father is presumed to be that of the mother's husband, and this presumption is immediately acknowledged after birth on the child's birth certificate. For unmarried parents, a father can claim paternity as long as there is no dispute as to the paternity of the child with the mother of the child. For births where there may be a question as to who the father is, it is not uncommon to use DNA testing, which can be done immediately after birth or even in the child's pre-natal stage, to determine who the child's paternal father is.

Regardless of the motive, there have been many instances in which a mother falsely claims a man to be the father of the child, and may collect child support payments or use the ill-informed man as a fatherly figure for a child believed to be his own. Such instances are called paternity fraud. Paternity fraud occurs when a mother collects child support payments from a man who is not the father of the child.

Things may become especially troubling in these circumstances when a presumed father is caring for, both in a financial sense and as a "dad," a child who is later determined to not be his actual child.

With such potential complications and legal ramifications for each instance dependent on numerous factors, if you believe you have been involved in a paternity fraud case, regardless of which point of the parental triangle you are on, it may be in your best interests to get more information in order to determine the best course of action.

Source: Men'sHealth, "Legal Aid for Duped Dads," March 6, 2007

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Joseph J. Porzenski
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