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Paternity Fraud

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During divorce, child custody and child support issues go beyond who will pay child support and/or have child custody. Paternity fraud is when a divorcing husband suspects that he isn't the biological father of children that were born in the marriage. Paternity fraud can be literally lying, or offering fraudulent information, about the father of a child or children.

Paternity fraud often becomes an issue when relationships end and financial and custodial obligations for children must be divided between spouses. Generally, to commit paternity fraud, a woman must knowingly falsely indicate the father of a child. Motivations for committing paternity fraud may include maintaining a relationship and receiving child support payments.

Who Is Affected by Paternity Fraud?

Some resources on paternity fraud go so far as to label it a type of domestic violence against men and children.

    Defrauded Man: The man indicated as the father, who has no actual biological ties to the child in question, can be financially and emotionally burdened by paternity fraud. If he's ordered to pay child support, his financial means may be greatly diminished.
    The Child/Children: Effects of paternity fraud go beyond the potential emotional trauma of having the children's identities shaken by learning that "father" isn't actually related to them. Child victims of paternity fraud also face health risks from not knowing the medical history of biological fathers and risk factors.
    The Real Father: When a false father is identified, the biological father is denied a relationship with his child or children.
    The Defrauded Man's Family: "False fathers" often pay child support, taking away that support from their true families. Funneling significant amounts of money toward child support means less money is left over for shelter, food, clothing and education for the man's biological family.

Fight Paternity Fraud

If you think you've been victimized by paternity fraud, there are steps you can take to address the situation.

    Consult a Lawyer: The laws governing paternity fraud are different in every state, so working with a divorce lawyer, a legal professional who uses family law, is crucial to your paternity case. Depending on where you live, you may be facing statutes of limitation for questioning paternity and restrictions on whether you're permitted to challenge paternity.
    Get the tests: Thanks to the availability of DNA testing, you can get a reliable paternity test fairly easily. Paternity testing could cost from $300 to $1,000, but that cost could translate to big savings if you're excused from paying child support.
    Do your homework: Generally, to prove that you've been victimized by paternity fraud, you must be able to prove that the mother of the child knew you weren't the father when she named you as the father. Ask your divorce lawyer about what constitutes adequate proof where you live.

Speak to a Divorce Lawyer about Paternity Fraud

If you have been a victim of paternity fraud or suspect your wife is lying to you about who the real father is, speak with a divorce attorney near you to learn more about what you can do. Paternity fraud is a serious crime that can affect more than just the defrauded father. Call 877-349-1310 or fill out a divorce case review form to set up a preliminary consultation.

The above summary of paternity fraud is by no means all-inclusive and is not intended to serve as legal advice. Laws may have changed since our last update. For the latest information on child support laws, speak to a local divorce lawyer in your state.