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What you need to do if you fell victim to paternity fraud

On Behalf of | Mar 15, 2021 | Family Law |

The laws presume mothers’ parental rights to their children from the moment of birth, but those same laws don’t view unmarried fathers the same way.

Dads must generally first follow many steps to establish their paternity over a child born out of wedlock. One option may be for you to sign an Affidavit of Parentage. You have options if you sign such an agreement and later find out that you’re not a child’s father

What is paternity fraud?

Most of us have heard stories about women who had sexual relations with several partners within a specified time frame that later become pregnant.  She may simply tell the man she prefers best that he’s the child’s father and coax him into signing an Affidavit of Parentage because she believes that he’ll be a better fit for her child than the person she knows is their biological dad. 

Similarly, a married woman may know that her child is a product of an affair, but do nothing to alert her husband and allow him to believe that he’s the child’s biological father.

Both of those actions constitute paternity fraud.

How do men learn that they fell victim to a paternity fraud scheme?

Many years may linger on before anyone discovers paternity fraud occurred.

A dad may suspect that a child isn’t biologically their own as their physical features change and undergo paternity testing to confirm their parentage and then discover the discrepancy. They may also discover a mother’s deception once their child undergoes genetic or medical testing that shows that there’s alternate parentage.

How do family law judges handle paternity fraud cases?

The first instinct that a wrongly identified dad may have is to withdraw child support. The court’s primary obligation is to put a child’s interests first, however. They may order a man to continue paying support even though he’s not the biological father, especially if they’ve long been supporting the child or involved in their life. Judges may also order a dad to continue paying child support if eliminating it would cause them to require government assistance. 

What should you do if you fell victim to a paternity fraud scheme?

There are seldom any legal consequences that North Carolina mothers face for engaging in paternity fraud, and, thus, that’s why the cycle continues. An attorney can advise you of your options for terminating your custodial and support obligations should someone wrongly label you as a child’s father here in Wilmington.