False Accusations of Paternity
False accusations of paternity have been sensationalized to the point that many don’t comprehend how much of an epidemic it is.
Paternity tests do garner a lot of media attention, particularly with the success of “The Maury Povich Show,” which features segments revealing who is and is not the father.
But Marcus L. Matthews wants society to look at false paternity in a more serious light while realizing what a critical and social issue it is. Matthews shares his story and the stories of four other men who were falsely accused of paternity in his new book “I Am Not The Father: Narratives of Men Falsely Accused of Paternity.”
Matthews talked with MensRights.com editor Matt Allen about how false paternity affects more than just the accused and what the consequences should be for women who do make false accusations of paternity.
MensRights.com: Did you notice any common themes that all these men had in common? Did the false accusations come out of long-term relationships, or were these one-night stands?
Marcus Matthews: I found that the contexts were different. Some people might expect paternity fraud to come out of flings but we had one instance where they man and girl dated since junior high and were high school sweethearts that eventually resulted in a false accusation.
MensRights.com: I want to ask you about the emotional aspect behind the decision men face in these situations. I’m sure there was the dilemma of should you stay and raise and support this child that all along you were led to believe was yours. What was the decision-making process like? Did these men feel obligated to stay and support the child?
Marcus Matthews: There was an attachment there. They really thought they were the father of the child, and they were in relationships with the child’s mother. Two of the guys had absentee fathers and that really affected them because they had made up their minds a long time ago to be a better father than the absentee ones they had growing up.
It was very difficult emotionally for those men to pull away from those relationships.
MensRights.com: False paternity and paternity tests in general get a lot of exposure in the media, in terms of radio shows or TV programs like The Maury Povich Show where they will do whole segments around revealing who is and is not the father. So do you feel false accusations of paternity are not taken as seriously because we see these entertainment shows take this subject matter pretty lightly?
Marcus Matthews: Yes, it’s a subject that has been sensationalized, but it is an epidemic. Nationally, the false rate is about 14-17% so this is a large percentage of children who don’t know and won’t know who their father is.
It’s something taken lightly, we watch it on TV, we laugh at it, but there are some serious family issues that arise from false accusations of paternity.
MensRights.com: Victims of false accusations of paternity include not only the accused man but also the biological father and the child. So what can be done to stop it? What should the consequences be for women who do make false accusations of paternity?
Marcus Matthews: There definitely needs to be more communications in families. Even though this is a problem mainly affecting adults, this is also a problem with young adults who are in relationships who haven’t really talked to their parents about sex education.
Also, right now there is nothing that says children born out of wedlock must have a DNA test to prove paternity. We need to re-evaluate the process of claiming paternity. It’s difficult when the process is as easy as someone putting a man’s name on a piece of paper and saying “that’s the dad.” So some legislative action like that would definitely help curb the situation.
Finally, like you mentioned, there are many victims. You also have grandmothers and other family and so many different people involved that want to love this child and want this child to be in their family.
MensRights.com: What was your motivation behind sharing this emotional experience?
Marcus Matthews: I had not realized how much of an issue false paternity was until I was writing my autobiography and found my personal story about this experience and I realized how many men I know that have been falsely accused of paternity. So I talked to them about telling their stories. And as word got around, more people were coming forward saying they were falsely accused, too.
I knew it was an issue but I didn’t know it was this much of an issue. When I discovered the statistics, I was amazed. I want to open people’s eyes and have them realize false paternity is a critical, social issue. I think nationally it needs to be looked at in a more serious light.
MensRights.com: What do you hope people get out of this book?
Marcus Matthews: I definitely want to raise awareness. I also want those men who are falsely accused to have a voice. We need to have a voice and people need to realize we aren’t just bums off the street.
These are educated men; these are good men who oftentimes want to be the father. I want to give those people a voice. I want to start the conversation with families and I want families to talk with young people about how to deal with intimacy and dating in their personal lives.
The mens divorce attorneys at the Cordell & Cordell Law Firm handle many domestic litigation issues, including paternity. Contact the Cordell & Cordell office nearest you or learn more information about paternity laws on DadsDivorce.com.