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TAKING CHARGE


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RESOURCES - SINGLE AND DIVORCING PARENTS

« Fathers awarded custody more often | Main | David Goldman and Left Behind Parents to Testify »

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I absolutely agree with DNA testing at birth. I have no more to add, because what has been added so far is sufficient in the comments. It is such a simply thing to do, and would resolve so many issues before they can become issues.

DNA testing at birth.

My husband has a child he has never been allowed to know, he is 14 now. The mother started dating another may while she was pregnant with this child and later married him (3 months after the birth) while my husband was in the navy (to support his child).

This child has the step-fathers last name, this child never knew my husband existed by choice of the mother. My husband however has paid child support since the day the child was born.

My husband however has always doubts as to the paternity of the child with good reason.

But the facts remain that the mother chose to go the route of another man raising this child as his father.

When the mother has financial difficulties (By quitting her government job of tens years) 3 years ago, she filed for an increase. My husband lost his home, his credit ruined, because of a result of a 900% increase in child support. It went from 200.00 a month to 950.00 a month. We did not have the money, to afford a lawyer to fight this increase.

My husband still has reason to believe that this child in fact is not biologically his, but in order to have this disputed or looked into requires a lawyers involvement, for which we have no money for.

Thank all of you above for commenting. I do not disagree that DNA testing should be available at birth even if the parents are married. This may be even more true today than 20 years ago because it seems that people are far more casual in their sexual lives today than they were 20 or more years ago. It's less clear for many whether that child conceived and/or born during a marriage is a marital child.

And what would be the harm if DNA testing is routinely done at birth? It would accomplish many goals:

1) A husband (legal father) could learn that he is not the biological father before he establishes a parent-child relationship--an attachment that would be difficult for him and for the vulnerable child to break-- and before he is vulnerable to a support relationship with the child.

2) A husband so informed (as above) then could make a choice to preserve his marriage and raise the child as his own -- knowing up front that it is not his child.

3) If he chooses to raise the child as his own, in my opinion, there should be a very short period in which he, knowing that he is not the biological father and is choosing to be the legal father, has to elect to do otherwise. In other words, there should be a a short period during which he may "opt-out" and disestablish parentage so that the mother has to "fess up" and to involve the biological father -- in support if not in parenting. Twelve months is a reasonable period of time, in my opinion.

4) The biological father may strongly desire to establish a parent-child relationship. I have represented many who wish to do so. I have counseled others who are heartbroken because they have not been allowed to do so. Thus, if the legal father is informed and opts out, the biological father would have standing to establish parentage.

I know that I promised all who've read this article that I would do an update over the Christmas holiday and would be discussing these three separate facets of this issue. That did not happen as many intervening issues, first and foremost the David and Sean Goldman parental abduction case as it unfolded in the weeks before and after Christmas, scheduling problems here and weather problems. [Michigan winters, so grand . . ice dams . . . leaks . . . house repairs . . . )!

Stay with me. I will break this complicated issue down into three or four separate discussions. If you haven't signed up to get email updates, do so above in the upper left-hand corner of the Blog. That way, you won't miss the updates as I am able to get them to you.

In the meantime, those of you who are having access problems and custodial / parenting time issues, might be interested in the Goldman case . . . happily finally resolved on Christmas Eve. http://tinyurl.com/ya4neqo

Jeanne

I think they should legislate DNA testing at birth. My husband is just finding out his 21 year old daughter, the girl is in her 3rd year of university, is not his. His now ex-wife made him believe the girls entire life she was his and now we are trying to figure out how to tell her it is not so. He's paid child support and is now paying for some of her university, all at the insistance of her mother or she'll sue him. If they give parents the choice to DNA test, any young couple "madly" in love would likely say "no honey, I love you, I trust you". What troubles me when I read these cases is that the children remain close to their mother! These women need to be convicted of a criminal act. Fraud is fraud and their kids need to see them get punished. They've hurt many people and defrauded an innocent man out of thousands of dollars. My husband plans on remaining close to his "daughter" and to continue helping her with university. He still looks at her as his kid. I can't imaging what he's going through.

I find the much of public discussion of misattributed paternity disappointing. The most vocal discussants seem to be single-issue people. Since those on opposing sides each focus on a different single issue, much of the discussion falls far short of a reasoned and thoughtful dialog. I regret that some people frame this issue in terms of whether we should do what's best for the putative father or what's best for the child(ren). The interests of both of these parties are usually much more complex than the advocates suggest. (This is the truth in the claim that "[e]very case is dependent upon its own unique set of facts.") And, importantly, there are other parties with significant interests as well: the biological father; half-siblings (who think they are siblings); and more. The interests of these individuals is often omitted from the public discussion.

While I agree that cases differ markedly and, so, there is no single resolution that should be applied to all cases, I resist the thought that "there is no right answer." That the right answer is nuanced and conditional on the facts of the case does not entail that there is no right answer. And, there are some things that are worth emphasizing. Here's one: in almost all cases (and I qualify it only to handle truly rare cases that could be imagined), lying to someone about whether that person is the parent of a child is deeply morally wrong. It is a deception about one of the most important elements in our lives. It often causes, and always threatens to cause, extreme hurt for many of the parties involved. For these reasons, all discussions of this issue should be in the context of a strong condemnation of those who engage in deception concerning issues of paternity.

And, those who wave the banner of a child's interest in favor of not allowing legal paternity to track biological paternity need be honest about two facts that they seldom mention. First, it is often claimed that legal determinations of paternity should not be revisited in light of DNA evidence because disestablishment of paternity "takes away from the child the only father the child has known." Advocates of this argument need to admit that, in a very large number of the cases in question, "the only father the child has known" has no relationship with the child other than to have his wages garnished unjustly in support of a child he did not sire. The situation is different, of course, when the putative father has been involved in the child's life. But, it is important to remember, it is not the change in the legal requirement of financial support that "deprives the child of the only father the child has known." It might deprive the child of financial support from this man (though it might not--men support children without court orders to do so). But the emotional and interpersonal connection has either already been broken by the knowledge of the paternity deception or it can go on even in the absence of legal duty of financial support. It is a fallacy to think that court determinations settle what is true in the world. And, really, about the only facet of fatherhood that the courts can determine is that of financial liability. If a man is not responsible for the pregnancy, what is the argument for enforcing this one aspect of paternal responsibilities. (Children need to be supported, to be sure. I'm asking what the benefit is to the child of having the support come from this particular man, who is not causally responsible for the child's existence.) If the court could, by fiat, ensure that every child has a loving, involved, nurturing father, that would be great. But about all the courts can really ensure is that a particular man's income will be dunned to support a particular child. It is fantasy to believe that this is "keeping in the life of the child, the only father that child has ever known."

The second thing that advocates of the simple "child's interest argument against paternity disestablishment" should recognize is the significant interests children have in correct paternity establishment. I detail many of these interests in a paper "Daddy Dilemmas: Untangling the Puzzles of Paternity" published in the CORNELL JOURNAL OF LAW AND PUBLIC POLICY (13(2003)29-80) and available on line at: http://people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/hubin1/research.html. To the degree that legal rules discouraging revisiting paternity determinations increase the number of children who have false beliefs about their paternity, they cause real harm to these children throughout their lives.

A policy of doing DNA testing at birth for all children, from which parents would be allowed to "opt out" by an affirmative action to do so, would protect children from the harms of false paternity establishment.

Don Hubin, Professor and Chair
Department of Philosophy
The Ohio State University

Dear Mrs Hannah,

I applaud you on even speaking on such a controversial issue, I also respect the right to opinion that everyone is entitled too, My name is Douglas Richardson from Michigan and would like to comment from inside the ring of paternity fraud.

After 20 years, this chapter of my life has concluded ,at least from the perspective of paying anymore or courts jurisdiction and intervention. The child I have not seen since he was 5, is now 23 and a grown man, I must ad still living with his BIOLOGICAL FATHER. The courts, mother and biological father are all content other than being able to grasp my family's income any further.

While this may appear to be a happy ending, the repercussions myself and family have faced is a continuing disruption and hurdle I will never overcome, while I may (over time) replenish the lost income,I will never over come the mental and physical anguish this has em placed on all of the individuals immediately involved,including my biological family with a son of 6 and daughter of only 1.

It is extremely easy for one to pass judgment or form an opinion without being on the flip side of this coin, due to the myth of best interest of the child. Children are innocent and deserve the protection and support of BOTH responsible BIOLOGICAL PARENTS, its easy in ones mind to justify what has happened to me, and thousands of men just like me, because the out come is a child is being supported.

I ask, what about my biological children that are truly deserving and due every opportunity that I can afford them, I was forced to pay another man child support for his own recognized biological son, while depriving the children that I was rightfully obligated to support. Because of a law and the belief of best interest of the child,one can enter into individuals lives (UNINVITED) and legally and fraudulently steal the family security they have worked so diligently for in hopes to pass on for generations to come.

Respectfully
Douglas Richardson & Family

Fraud sums it up. Why is it right for the woman to lie and cheat and to name the Dad- Why should a man be held responsible for a child that is not his for 18+ years- even after the marriage is disolved. Why should the legal father be dupped into supporting another mans child - this is not right. I feel that the law should allow a man to be removed from the responsibility of paying child support for a child that is not his especially if it is proven by DNA. Why is it right for a man to be prosecuted for not paying child support, but a woman can commit fraud and get away with it scott free. Where is the justice? It makes matters even worse for a man to loose his license, not be able to drive to work possibly go to jail all because he falls behind on child support for a child that is not of his seed- therefore he should not have to support that said child. I agree that it is a difficult situation as the child may loose the only father that he/she ever knew- but the mother should have thought of that before she spred her legs and then lived the lie. Justice needs to be served and women need to be held acoountable for their actions just as men are. DNA tests should be mandatory at the hospital with all births before the birth certificate is handed out. It would take care of these lies that many women are getting away with. It is not fair for women to hold this power and to take away not only the man's rights but also the childs and it's biological father's rights to have a relationship- not even going into all the health and medical reason behind why a child should know its bio father.
This post is comimg from a woman and a mother- again Justice needs to be served for all our men that are being taken advantae of!!! This is outragous!!!

Ouch Joe! I didn't think that I was "shifting the full blame to the man." Of course it takes two to get pregnant and of course a woman is just as responsible to use protection. But if I were a guy, I'd sure be careful and I would surely not be trusting someone else to make sure about the potential for pregnancy.

In an ideal world, if a married woman gets pregnant with a third person's child, then the husband would say goodbye and do exactly what you did -- prove it isn't his child and move on. Thankfully, DNA makes that possible.

I would agree that paternity establishment is an issue that hold jurisdiction in the civil courts. This is even funded thru the federal programs of Title IV. I will disagree with it staying in the civil courts once FRAUD is involved though. My answer is the easiest way to fix this would be to change the laws and make this a felony offense. Child support is also an issue that is funded thru Title IV and starts in the civil courts so to think that a civil matter can not move to the criminal courts would be nieve at this point.
I have seen cases where paternity fraud happens to people who never met the mother. Thier name was placed as the father to collect welfare services and then deamed the legal father thru the courts without proper due process. Paternity fraud currently has negative effects on everyone involved except the person who committed the FRAUD to begin with. (Smuck who is now stuck with a support order and NO rights to the child, Bio-dad who never gets to learn of his off spring, and the child misses the love and guidance from the father. The only negative consiquence of the FRAUD for the mother is if she picks the dad who makes less money to support her with) I would advocate that this needs to change and there should be a consiquence to such FRAUD if we are to end it.
I am also familiar with the old british law that our system is based on to avoid breaking up intact families. We now have DNA to prove who the bio father is and if the family was so intact how did the mother end up pregnant outside of the marriage. Judging by the end of your comment you would shift the full blame to the man however it takes 2 and she is just as responcible to use proper protection against the pregnancy as he is. Legally if she is the married party more in the wrong I would think but I am just a layman and not some great twister of the law.
This issue almost hit very close to home for me actually. My Ex was pregnant before the divorce was final and had I been stuck with the Title DADDY for that child I would already have introduced legislation to make this a crime. I was deployed at the time so this was an easy resolve in my case but under the law they could have made me the legal dad.
I am curious how do you think we should fix this issue besides men not forcing innocent women to get pregnant?
With the 40% stat you give I think this is potentially a rather large problem

Joe, while I agree with your comment that this seems like a criminal act, the law doesn't regard it as such. It is a matter for the civil court system. I also agree with your comment that in this day of DNA, it is ridiculous for a mother to be able to exclude a biological father from a child's life. However, where that child has a legal father, (i.e., the mother's husband), then Michigan law does not permit the establishment of a parent-child relationship with the biological father. (Of course, if the mother and her husband permit this, the court doesn't care. The law simply will not facilitate a biological father's intervention into an intact family.

What's the answer? Men need to protect themselves from becoming the father of a child born or conceived during a marriage. You know what makes babies. Now you need to avoid making babies with married women.

I think the title of the article answers the question. Fraud is a criminal offense and the law needs to charge the mother as such. She is the only one who knows if there is a possibility of there being more then one potential father and should have to disclose such under pentaly of law. I bet the issue of paternity fraud would not be such an issue if we jailed the mother for thier fraudulent actions.
When the courts try to treat this issue as anything short of a criminal offense we end up with cases like Doug Richardson who was forced to pay child support to the childs biological father.
The issue of amarried father having more rights then a Bio-father is also a bit outdated with the advent of DNA. It takes 2 to produce the child and BOTH parties should be considered as equals when its time to raise them short of proof of unfit, unwilling, or unable. Single parent homes are destructive to our society and there is no need for a court to create them when a child has 2 fit parents

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