There is nothing like the father/child relationship. When the issue paternity fraud comes into question, however, a man’s world may turn upside down. If you are a man who has just discovered that a child you believed was yours may not have a genetic tie to you, discussing your situation with an experienced family attorney should be your first step.
What is Paternity Fraud?
When the mother of a child fraudulently identifies a man as the child’s father, she may do so for a couple of reasons:
- She is well aware of the discrepancy and wants the man to take responsibility for the child;
- She is unsure of the identity of the father, and is afraid to make a positive identification, so she identifies her husband as the father to avoid conflict;
- She is unsure who the father is, and suspects a particular man is the father, and names that man.
In cases in which the couple is married, the husband is presumed to be the father unless proven otherwise. If a husband does not challenge the assumption, he is named on the birth certificate fraudulently. For unmarried men, when the man is named on the birth certificate or affidavit of paternity, generally at the woman’s suggestion, it is fraud. Both scenarios create ethical and legal complications when the biological connection is missing and the truth comes out later on.
Emotional Impact of Paternity Fraud
Everyone involved in paternity fraud—the man, the child, and the woman—are subject to emotional trauma when this occurs, whether the fraud is accidental or purposeful. When paternity is questioned, the outcomes often lead to severed relationships and distress that lasts a lifetime in some cases.
Child Support and Custody Issues
Is a man legally obligated to provide child support if he discovers the child is not biologically his? First, understand that a paternity declaration can be rescinded only if it happens within 60 days. The state has a two-year statute of limitations for genetic testing. Even if the test reveals paternity fraud, he may still be required to provide support if the judge finds that the length of the relationship, the age of the child, or other pertinent factors make it best for the child.
On the other hand, sometimes men in this situation wish to continue to be in the life of a child, despite having no biological connection. In such instances, the court may award parental rights such as custody or visitation, recognizing that the relationship is so strong that no testing can come between the man and the child.
Has Paternity Fraud Left You Boggled?
Are you dealing with the news that you are not the biological father of a child you believed was yours? What happens next? To discuss the issue with an attorney, contact the experienced family law team at Beck Law P.C., in Santa Rosa. We work with clients from Lake County, Mendocino County, and Sonoma County.