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Understanding paternity fraud -- Part II

In Texas, like elsewhere in the country, establishing paternity of a newborn baby is generally a routine task that is officially recognized in the hospital where the baby was born. As noted in the first blog on the topic of paternity, sometimes, an apparent father is not actually a child's biological father and has no genetic link to the child. This can be emotionally traumatic for the man who has spent time raising the child as his own. He also may have suffered financially because he spent time and money in the mistaken belief the child was his.

There are various grounds on which an attorney can initiate a case of paternity fraud. Raising a child is typically costly, even if the child is raised in a middle-class lifestyle. Thus, a plaintiff can ask for financial reimbursement from the mother of the children. The trick is proving that the mother intentionally deceived her husband or long-time partner and knew that another man was her child's actual father.

In addition, because the supposed father may well feel that he has lost the child he believed his own, he might seek compensation from the mother for the pain and suffering sustained because of her fraudulent behavior. Again, proving deception is critical and not always easily done.

Under the law, it is believed that it was the duty of the mother, especially in cases where the mother was also the man's wife or a long-term girlfriend, to express any doubts over the paternity of the child in question. Not letting the man know about the infidelity constitutes fraudulent misrepresentation on the mother's part. Lawyers can thus ask the mother to reimburse the father for financial contributions that were made under false pretenses in order to raise a child he did not father.

Source: NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov, "Paternity fraud and compensation for misattributed paternity," Heather Draper, Aug. 2007

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