Paternity Fraud Victims : Innocent Third Party

Updated 2019 03 06: Added links to related articles.

By Ronald K. Henry
Family Law Quarterly of the American Bar Association, vol. 40, no. 1, Spring 2006

From the article:

If paternity fraud were a “one in a million event,” we might shrug and say that the random strike of paternity fraud is no worse than the random strike of lightning. The reality is that the lowest estimates of the number of paternity fraud victims [in the USA] are in the tens of thousands, and I believe that the number may be in excess of one million. The scandal is that the child support enforcement bureaucracy has consciously chosen to make no attempt to quantify the problem.

Ronald K. Henry

I. Introduction

During her divorce proceedings, Bonnie repeatedly claimed that Doug Richardson was the father of her child, but the child told Doug that Bonnie stated that Abraham Flores was his real father. The court refused Doug’s request for a continuance to obtain counsel to assist in contesting paternity.1 The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed. 2 A paternity test excluded Doug as a possible father of the child. 3 Bonnie resumed living with Abraham, but Doug was forced to pay child support into the household of the child’s real father. Later, Bonnie and Abraham broke up with a formal change of custody from Bonnie to Abraham. The Michigan State Court ordered Doug, the nonfather, to pay child support directly to Abraham, the biological father. 4

No one knows for certain the number of paternity fraud victims in America, but the lowest estimates are in the tens of thousands. The Michigan case is unusual only in that the paternity fraud victim was required to make court-ordered payments to the child’s father rather than to the child’s mother because of a change of custody to the father.

The subject of paternity fraud is not new. 5 In typical discussions, however, the phrase “paternity fraud” is rarely used in deference to the preferred phrase “paternity disestablishment,” a seemingly more intractable and difficult problem of balanced nuances. “Paternity fraud,” however, is not difficult to detect and prevent. For less than $100, a DNA test can determine with certainty whether a particular man is the father of a particular child before that man is indentured with coercively enforced obligations for eighteen years or twenty-one years 6 for someone else’s child. There is nothing difficult about ending paternity fraud. This article is an argument and a plea for an end to the injustice.

Although numerous cases have addressed paternity fraud in all fifty states, the cases cannot be reconciled and are wildly inconsistent.7 The only thing that can be seen from the cases is that there is a growing recognition that it is wrong for the courts to be parties to the injustice done to these innocent men. This article examines the justifications that have been presented for the perpetration and perpetuation of paternity fraud and finds them wanting.

The full story, thanks to the Equal Justice Foundation, is accessible here. ( does not use permalinks, for which reason the preceding link will provide you with a list of search returns, of which the first one listed is the link to the article of interest.)


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1 Response to Paternity Fraud Victims : Innocent Third Party

  1. Here is an update:

    Ask Mr. Dad: Protecting yourself from paternity fraud

    By ARMIN BROTT, McClatchy-Tribune News Service

    Dear Mr. Dad: My wife and I are about to get a divorce. We have a 1-year-old boy and she’s pregnant with our second. Here’s the problem: She’s been having an affair for the last two years and I’m concerned that the children aren’t actually mine. What can I do to protect myself?…
    Full Story:

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