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Marital Paternity Fraud

dad to beFor centuries, courts followed a rule known as the "presumption of paternity."

This tenet of common law states that unless a man can prove that he is sterile, impotent, or was away from home at the time of conception, he is the legal father of any child born to his wife during their marriage.

The Romans first adopted this rule, and the English incorporated it into common law some 500 years ago.

Despite scientific advances and case law that supports the use of DNA tests as evidence in exonerating the accused, the presumption of paternity remains in practice even today. Courts have allowed mothers to commit perjury, assigning paternity to former spouses; or, in the cases of those never married, former lovers.

Societies and the laws governing societies have always had an interest in paternity establishment.  Who will be the king, who is born a citizen, who will inherit, etc.  These are all issues that have generated a focus on paternity establishment throughout history. At a time when there was no DNA testing, it was difficult (if not impossible) to establish paternity and "presumptions" served as the best solution for solving the otherwise unsolvable.  

Presumptions of paternity served a useful purpose at a time when truth could not be obtained.  We now live in a world where the truth is available.  For less than $100.00, we can know with certainty whether a man is or is not the father of a child.  WAPF Co-Founder Dianna Thompson was quoted in Insight Magazine as saying, "...If DNA is used to free death-row inmates, we must accept it in paternity cases. ..."
As noted by Paula Roberts "...There is a fundamental sense that it is unfair to require a man to support a child with whom he has no biological connection. ..." Without a doubt, old presumptions that were created where the truth could not be known should fall when the truth does become known.  

Many argue that their justification for refusing to grant post-judgment relief from a false paternity establishment all circle back to a claim that it would be unfair to the child (or the state) to release a victim of a false paternity establishment; yet, none of the courts that refuse relief from false paternity establishments is actually talking about maintaining a physical or emotional relationship between the child and the unrelated adult.

Despite all of the references about family, stability, and relationships, the courts focus is solely to enforce financial obligations -- not maintaining a physical or emotional relationship between the child and the unrelated adult. 

Every week, thousands of cohabitating couples or second marriages break up.  Many of these relationships break up after years of family life in with one adult served as a stepparent to the biological children of the other adult.  The law is very clear that when these relationships break up, absent unusual circumstances the stepparents have no financial obligation to the stepchildren.  Even though, in many cases many of the stepparents would voluntarily continue physical and emotional relationships.  

The only difference between a paternity fraud victim and a stepparent is that the paternity fraud victim has been subjected to a lie and, because he was subjected to a lie, some courts seek to deny him the right to end financial support, a right that is uniformly given to exiting stepparents.  Even though he was lied to and a victim or paternity fraud the courts will perpetuate his victimization by imposing financial burdens on him, which stepparents do not bear.  

The talk about preserving relationships as a justification for refusing to vacate false paternity establishments goes against human nature. Our most elementary understanding of human nature informs us that a man who is free to follow his "voluntary will" in persuing a relationship with a child will have a better relationship than a man who is filled with rage and resentment because he continues to make involuntary payments on the basis of a lie.  

Father and Baby DaughterWithout a doubt, forcing a man to emotionally and financially support a child that was conceived through an affair his wife had while married -- or during the time the couple was legally separated is unfair to all involved.

State laws should not force a relationship between a child and an unrelated parent unless the man has agreed to take on this role.  Even so, the child still deserves to know the truth.

Children need to be treated as human beings with a fundamental, moral interest in truth and integrity, rather than a weapon to be used against an innocent paternity fraud victim.  They have the right to know who their biological father is.  Virtually every major social pathology has been linked to fatherlessness; violent crime, drug and alcohol abuse, truancy, teen pregnancy, suicide--all correlate more strongly to fatherlessness than any other single factor. 

As to the best interests of a child, it should never be a sufficient legal argument to say that it is in the best interest of any child to perpetuate a fraud.  The child's best and only interest in paternity establishment lies in finding the child's biological father.  That child needs to know his or her genetic heritage for medical purposes.  That child also needs to have the opportunity to establish a relationship with his or her father.

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