Suspect Paternity Fraud? What to Do
Paternity Fraud is when a man is incorrectly identified as the father of a child, for purposes of obtaining financial support, inheritance, etc. A 2005 study cites the incidence of paternity discrepancy as anywhere between .3% – 30%.
What to Do When You Suspect Child Isn’t Yours
- Do NOT sign the Voluntary Declaration of Paternity;
- Make Sure you are Not on Birth Certificate
- Request DNA test
Establishing Paternity When Married
If you are married at the time the baby is born, the law presumes that the married couple is the father and mother of the child.
As a father, you would have the legal rights and obligations of a father, such as custody and support.
Thus, if you are married, and you suspect you are NOT the biological father, you must challenge the presumption within the time limit. If you do not act within the time frame, the law presumes you are the father, even if later DNA tests reveal you are not.
Most men’s initial reaction to this presumption of law is that of outrage. The law protects children. It is not the child’s fault that the mother lied. Also, once the father-child relationship is established, most men find themselves attached to their child, even if they know they’re not biologically linked.
Establishing Paternity When Unmarried
If you are not married, you will need to establish parentage. You can do this by 1) signing the Voluntary Declaration of Paternity (in the hospital); or 2) Filing a parentage case and obtaining a Judgment of Parentage.
Establish Parentage is Good for Child
Every child has the right to their identity; to know where they come from. In addition to this, establishing parentage gives them legal rights such as:
- Monetary support from both parents;
- Legal documentation identifying both parents;
- Having the names of both parents on the child’s birth certificate;
- Access to family medical records and history;
- Health and life insurance coverage from either parent;
- The right to inherit from either parent; and
- The right to receive social security benefits;
- The right to receive veteran’s benefits.
If Adam and Eve had a baby, Adam would be the presumed parent (even if he isn’t the biological father) if:
- They were married when baby was conceived or born;
- Adam attempted to marry Eve when baby was conceived (even if marriage invalid);
- They married after baby was born and goes on birth certificate;
- Adam welcomed baby into his home and held himself out to the legal father of the baby.
Presumed Parent Rights Trump Bio Dad Rights
Let’s say Adam and Eve are married. Eve has an affair with Bob who impregnates her. Bob is the biological father, but Adam and Eve stay married.
Adam has 2 years to challenge paternity. After that, he is the baby’s presumed father.
If Adam does not challenge paternity, and stays married to Eve, BOB has no rights to the baby.
If you are a man who impregnates a married woman, you should know that your rights are secondary to her husband’s. You may not have any rights to your biological child.
Click here for more reading on presumed fathers.
DNA Testing Married/Unmarried
Suspect paternity fraud? If you suspect the baby is not yours, in general, you have a right to request a DNA test if the case is new. But again, time limits apply. Once the law has established the presumed father, you will no longer have the right.