By Jennifer Anastasi, BounceBack Editorial Staff
Here’s some food for thought... Is the court system so flawed that it will allow DNA to get a man off death row – but in some cases, not out of unjust child support payments? It’s been called “the perfect crime,” “the crime of the century,” and the “the crime that rewards the perp!” We’re talking about the highly controversial issue of paternity fraud, and men’s rights groups believe it’s happening more than we know!
Paternity fraud is committed when a woman dupes a man into assuming financial responsibility for a non-biological child by leading him to believe he is the father. The paternity affidavit is signed, and the often unsuspecting “dad” is obligated to pay child support. These duped dads are often defrauded of thousands and thousands of dollars in unjustified child support payments.
Men’s rights organizations often describe it as “father-shopping”-- intentionally targeting the good guy with a steady job who’s willing to provide for a child they believe is theirs. In criminal court – once fraud is discovered – the perpetrator would be ordered to pay restitution and sentenced to jail. Family court, however, will not necessarily drop child support orders even if the dad has DNA evidence proving he is NOT the father.
In most states, there’s a limited amount of time to contest paternity once a child is born – after that, a DNA paternity test won’t matter. The “legal” dad is ordered to continue paying support for a child that has been proven NOT to be his. That means that the dad on the birth certificate must remain the legal parent, even if DNA proves he’s NOT the biological father.
Many legal experts and men’s rights activist argue that the courts are behind the times when it comes to enacting laws that protect men becoming targets. In many states, a married man will be ordered to support a child his wife had as the result of an affair. Even if DNA proves he is not the father, the state doesn’t care.
According to reports, Joseph Dixon never suspected his ex-girlfriend was lying when she told him she was pregnant with his daughter. It wasn’t until his daughter was 4 years old that a DNA test revealed he was not her biological father. The fall-out for many duped dads is emotional and financial devastation – but far greater damage and pain is ultimately suffered by the children caught in the middle of such betrayals.
Caroline Caskey, of Identigene, a DNA testing company in Houston, has stated that in about 30% of the paternity tests the presumed father turns out to be not the biological father.
Many states are currently in process of passing and amending statutes aimed at helping duped dads contest unjust child support payments after a relationship breakup or divorce.
Clearly, this is a lose-lose situation for both the child and the duped dad. If child support orders are immediately dropped once paternity is disestablished, where does that leave the child in question? It could take years for the courts hunt down the true biological dad.
We understand that many of our BounceBack members are dealing with serious and emotionally challenging child support and custody issues, and we’ll leave no stone unturned when it comes to shedding light on these hot-button topics being debated across the nation.
Now it’s your turn. Do you think the courts and child support enforcement agencies unfairly favor women? Or, is Child Support Enforcement justified in keeping “duped dads” bound to their legal child support obligations? Let us know where you stand!
Jennifer is a NY based talk show producer and writer.