Updated 2019 05 09, to add links to related articles.
In the US alone, paternity fraud involves hundreds of thousands of cases each year where paternity is assigned to men who are not the natural fathers of the children they are alleged to have caused to be conceived.
Yet, once a given man has been designated as the father of a child of which he is not the natural father, he is with virtual certainty that child’s father in the eyes of the law. There is virtually no recourse for him.
Whether the man so designated is married to the mother of the child or not, whether he gets to see the child that he is alleged to have fathered but that is not his, or whether he even plays a meaningful role in the life of that child, he will with almost absolute certainty then be punished for being fingered as the father of that child, fined to pay child support for a child that that is not his, even if he can present irrefutable proof that the child is not his with payments that can reach thousands of dollar per month until the child reaches majority or finishes his education, whichever comes later.
As per US-CAPF (US Citizens Against Paternity Fraud), there have over the years been three cases in the State of Georgia in which unjustly fingered fathers managed, at a cost of years of litigation and many thousands of dollars in each case, to have the courts absolve them from their financial responsibilities for children that were not fathered by them. US-CAPF identifies another 20 such cases in all of the US. Let there be no mistake: that is the extent of American justice out of possibly hundreds of thousands of cases of paternity fraud.
Paternity fraud disputes
With respect to disputes over paternal rights and responsibilities, paternity fraud results in illegally obtained but court-sanctioned child-support benefits resulting from an allegation by a woman in collaboration with the legal system, supported by the courts and given the force of law through a court order, whereby a given man (often without him having been legally informed of his wrongly alleged paternity) is assigned the duties and responsibilities that come with paternity, even though he can prove through DNA paternity tests that he is not the natural father of the child or children he is alleged to have fathered.
It goes without saying that the preceding definition applies not only in cases of divorce and separation but also in practical but less adversarial ways to paternity within intact marriages or other relationships that don’t go or have not yet gone through child-support, child-custody and child-visitation litigation. In California, for example,
In Los Angeles County, eighty percent of paternity establishments are entered by default judgment, whereas for the State of California as a whole, the number is sixty-eight percent. California is not alone. The United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS/IG report) reported that seven states child support agencies report half or more of paternities established in their states occur through defaults. The inspector general further reported that twenty four percent of local offices in focus states report half or more of paternities in their caseloads are established by default. (The Innocent Third Party: Victims of Paternity Fraud (110 kB PDF file), BY RONALD K. HENRY; Family Law Quarterly, Volume 40, Number 1, Spring 2006)
What that means is that in such cases the mother of a child “determined” by various methods (e. g.: through picking a name out of a phone book) who is the father of her child.
Paternity fraud is an age-old problem: “Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more certain they are their own.” Aristotle
Paternity fraud is rampant throughout the world.
In the US, The Association of American Blood Banks reports that for 310,490 DNA tests made for paternity in 2001, “of the cases reported 90,227 were reported as exclusions or a rate of 29.06% exclusions [i.e.: paternity was proven to be falsely alleged].” (Source: Annual Report Summary for Testing in 2001, prepared by the Parentage Testing Program Unit, October 2002, Association of American Blood Banks, footnote to Table 2 PDF file, 129kB)
Parentage exclusion rates per AABB Annual Reports:
- Of 310,490 cases, 90,227 (29.06%) were reported as exclusions (Source, p. 2 of 12)
- Of 340,798 cases, 97,681 (28.7%) were reported as exclusions (Source, p. 3 of 51)
- Of 353,387 cases, 99,174 (28.06%) were reported as exclusions (Source, p. 3 of 53)
- Of 374,171 cases, 100,588 (26.68%) were reported as exclusions (Source, p. 6 of 62)
Consider the following:
The practice of attributing fatherhood to the wrong man for a variety of reasons is not uncommon. The rate of wrongful paternity in “stable monogamous marriages,” according to the Max Planck Institute in Munich, Germany, ranges from one in 10 with the first child to one in four with the fourth. In contested paternity cases, where the alleged father wants to be sure of his paternity before allowing himself to be committed to a life-time of supporting a child to whom he may never have access, the rate of wrongful paternity is one in three in Texas and 36% of all cases in Florida.
An article in the March 27  issue of the Melbourne, Australia, daily, the Age, claims, “About 3,000 paternity tests are carried out a year in Australia. In about 20% of cases the purported father is found to be unrelated to the child. This figure is estimated to be 10% in the general community.” The article continues, “The New South Wales privacy commissioner, Mr. Chris Puplick, said the practice [of DNA testing children without the mother’s permission] was unethical and an illustration of the need for formal guidelines about genetic testing and access to genetic material. The consequence for a man of finding out he was not the father could be devastating, he said.” (Pregnant on the sly : The practice of falsely attributing fatherhood is rising among women, by Walter H. Schneider and Candis McLean; The REPORT Newsmagazine, United Western Communications, April 24, 2000)
More in Advice to Men:
- Paternity Testing
- Prices for paternity testing
- Paternity Issues
- Restitution for Paternity Fraud
- Men who pay child support for children that are not theirs What if the child isn’t yours?
- Are you sure your child is yours? Chances can be one or better against four that it isn’t.
- Misattributed paternity in non-contested paternity cases
- Not even the mother knows for sure?
- Paternity Fraud Report