Many Missouri fathers would find one of their worst nightmares is to discover that the child they have called their son or daughter for years is not their offspring at all. Unfortunately, some men do live this nightmare because of paternity fraud. According to Very Well Family, paternity fraud is when a man is designated to be the father of a child when that is not the case at all. There are a number of reasons why men are wrongly identified as fathers.
A typical instance of paternity fraud involves a man signing an affidavit of paternity not knowing that he is not the true father of a child. The man may have been or is currently in a relationship with the mother, so the man may think nothing of signing the affidavit in addition to the birth certificate of the child. However, if a DNA test is not ordered to confirm paternity, the affidavit will remain as the seemingly definitive proof of fatherhood.
This is not the only way paternity fraud can occur. At times, a man will be married to the mother at the time the child is conceived or born, but later on the man will divorce the mother. If the mother goes after the ex-spouse for child support, it is possible that a court will presume the man is the father of the child by virtue of the fact that he was married during the child’s birth or conception.
The consequences of paternity fraud can be financially damaging since a father may have been required to pay child support for years when it was not necessary. Additionally, some courts may not even cut off child support, owing to the best interests of the child in receiving it. Paternity fraud can also sour the relationship between father and mother, although not all mothers deliberately try to deceive a person into taking on fatherly responsibilities and may be genuinely mistaken in identifying him as a father.
Additionally, there can be emotional fallout from being told that you are not the real father. However, in some cases, men who are still in a relationship with the mother may be able to become the child’s guardian, or if a man is married to the mother, he can become the child’s legal father through adoption. Establishing these legal relationships can help restore some legal rights over the child and not leave the child’s welfare solely at the discretion of the mother.
Keep in mind that since cases of paternity fraud can vary, you should not consider this article as legal advice. It is only intended to inform readers on paternity topics.