What To Do When You Are The Victim of Paternity Fraud
Hearing the words “I am pregnant,” can ignite a wide variety of feelings in a man.
He may be overjoyed, terrified, or a combination of the two. For the woman looking to commit paternity fraud, she is hoping that he is filled with the overwhelming sense of responsibility to do the right thing.
Paternity fraud occurs when a woman intentionally names a man to be the father of her child when she knows he is not the biological father, often for the purposes of collecting child support. Paternity fraud has many victims, including the non-biological father, the biological father, the families of both men, and most certainly the innocent child.
With so many paternity tests readily available, suspicions of paternity fraud are easier than ever to confirm. However, just because your gut feeling turned out to be true and you are not the biological father of the child doesn’t necessarily mean you will find relief within the family law court system.
If you later learn you are the victim of paternity fraud, it is not as easy as submitting the DNA test results to the court to eliminate a child support order.
Depending on the jurisdiction, once the deadlines for contesting paternity have passed and the court has ordered terms for support, you may still be obligated to continue to support the child despite the fact that a DNA test has proven you are not the father. In fact, many states have declared that a DNA test alone is not sufficient to vacate a paternity order.
If the child’s biological father cannot be found and produced, the courts may completely overlook the victimization and turn to the best interest of the child, which is to continue to require you to support the child.
There is hope, though, even if the deadline for contesting paternity has passed.
The court may vacate a paternity acknowledgement if you prove fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact. However, the difficulty in proving fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact to vacate the acknowledgment is that the laws and court rulings of each state vary so be sure to consult with a licensed attorney.
In order to prove paternity fraud, you must prove that the mother actually committed fraud. The elements of fraud require you to prove that she knew you were not the father, she told you that you were the father, and that you signed the acknowledgment based on her statement. This is not to be confused with a woman who mistakenly names you the biological father though it later turns out that you are not the father. Fraud must be present.
To prove fraud, you will need evidence. Did she tell you she knew? Did she write you a letter or e-mail stating she knew? Did she tell anyone that she knew? These are just a few of the questions that you will need answered in order to gather evidence to assemble your case.
In addition to proving the child is not yours and the mother willingly and knowingly committed fraud when naming you the father, you must also identify and then locate the child’s actual biological father. As mentioned earlier, the courts are concerned that the child has financial support and if you can find the biological father than the courts have alternative means of support for the child that doesn’t require you.
In some jurisdictions, you may be able to obtain an order requiring the biological father reimburse you for the amount you have already paid in support.
Even if you do not believe you have a case for fraud, if you believe you are not the father of a child you have been ordered to pay support for, you should contact a domestic litigation attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.
The Cordell & Cordell Law Firm handles many domestic litigation issues, including paternity. Contact the Cordell & Cordell office nearest you or learn more information about paternity laws on DadsDivorce.com.