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Paternity Fraud Hasn’t Gone Away

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 12:39 PM
Thursday, December 30, 2010

Laws about child support and child custody are different from state to state all of them require that there is solid proof that a relationship exists. If you want to get custody of a child you need to prove that you are related to that child. Unfortunately there are still situations where paternity is “assigned.”  Paternity is “assigned” when, a child is born to the wife during a marriage this is called “presumption of legitimacy”, and the husband is assigned complete rights, duties and obligations as to the child.  In the case of an unwed mother, a man may come forward and accept the paternity of the child, or the mother may petition the court for a determination, or paternity can be determined over time by showing that a man has been supporting a child in the ways of a father.

Non of those ways of determining paternity actually answers the question about who the father is. Many states have started to in act what are called paternity fraud laws which give a man the chance to dispute his role as the father. Traditionally relationships between parties were often determined by what was “reasonable” to assume. With DNA technology available for widespread use it has caused a change in the way paternity claims are dealt with.

More often than ever before a large group of shocked possible fathers are discovering that the children they’ve raised as their own are not biologically theirs. The mental impact of such a discovery can range from distressing to devastating, there is additional emotional distress when the man who has been known as the child’s father suddenly understands that he’s paid years of child support payments, sometimes many, many thousands of dollars, for another man’s child.

A great example is the case of Bert Riddick of California. As reported in a Los Angeles Times story Mr. Riddick was getting ready to leave on a business trip when his fiance discovered a court summons. In that summons Riddick was called forward as the father of his ex-girlfriend’s baby. Riddick had to attend to business elsewhere and didn’t go to the hearing. On his return he discovered that his wages were already being garnished. He had fallen victim to a common practice of declaring a man “guilty” by default.  Bert Riddick was declared the father because he had not proven otherwise.  This ruling destroyed Riddick’s new family financially. The Riddick family was forced to rely on the kindness of relatives who allowed them to stay in their home, the Riddick children in a tiny room together. Though Riddick’s life had been brought to ruin and his family became destitute. A simple home DNA test eventually proved that Bert Riddick was not the father of the child he’d had his wages garnished for all these years, but it wasn’t until years later that the State of California released him from the financial obligation to a child that wasn’t biologically his.

Another good example is the case of Doug Richardson of Michigan who, paid child support for fifteen years on a child that wasn’t his.  He paid roughly $80,000 in support. Mr Richardson claimed in the Detroit News that not only was he supporting a child who was not his, but he was financially supporting the child’s biological father a man involved with Richardson’s ex-wife. Mr. Richardson says he’s been tormented by this issue for the last fifteen years. Richardson was forced to file bankruptcy because he couldn’t pay his bills, back taxes and the penalties that go with them.

Fraudulent child support collections have destroyed the lives of many men.  A dozen other states offer legal protection to men who disprove paternity in such cases but still others do not. In 2005 almost twenty five percent of the states DNA paternity tests done for children born out-of-wedlock proved to be negative. In Georgia, if a man proves that he is not a child’s father his child support order will be ended. Maryland no longer has a limit on how long one can take to challenge a paternity case, something a lot of other states are looking at seriously. DNA paternity testing is now an established and important legal part of many paternity cases in the United States.

If you have any doubts or questions about the paternity of a child you might be supporting look into your states paternity law and get a DNA paternity test.  Knowledge is the best protection you have.

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