How Entertaining is Paternity Fraud?
Far too often we find entertainment in the suffering of others, without so much as a thought to how the lives of those involved are effected. Paternity Fraud, the act of misleading a man and a child in to believing they are connected through a biological (genetic) bond, is one of the forms of suffering in which we tend to find entertainment.
On any given weekday afternoon, network television airs the Maury Povich show. One of the largest draws of a viewing audience are the episodes where women step on to the stage, as the live feed of a cute toddler is displayed behind her. She is there, on national television, to tell the world that she knows who the father of this child is. This is followed by an interview with a man who either believes or does not believe he is the father of the toddler on the screen behind mom. The two “adults” are usually brought together on stage, where a bit of duologue takes place, usually riddled with a large number of FCC required “bleeps” since most of the folks on the show do not have the intelligence, nor enough of a basic fundamental grasp on the English language to engage in conversation that is not riddled with expletives. After a while, the host, Maury, calms the exchange and the audience, he then asks the man, “<insert mans name here>, do you think you are <insert child’s name here>’s father?” The possible father gives his response, and Maury brings out the envelope. Cut to commercial about a feminine hygiene product, laundry detergent, or personal injury attorney.
Once the network has paid the bills, we are brought back to the dilemma at hand. Maury holds the envelope in his lap, engages the “adults” on the stage with a bit of conversation. Then the words that almost everyone in America that has experienced daytime television has at some point in their life heard….”<insert man’s name here>, according to our test, when it comes to little <insert toddler’s name here>; you are/are not the father.”
This revelation is typically followed by an over dramatic response by both “adults” on the stage, which can range from tears and uncontrollable sobbing, to holding hands and embracing one and other, to storming off the stage, with cameras not far behind. However it comes out, the drama which unfolds is seen by many Americans as entertainment. But for some Americans, this is not just something that happens on Maury. For some, it is a reality.
Does Paternity Fraud Really Occur All That Often?
In the 2010 American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) Annual Report Summary for Relationship Testing, there were a reported 382,199 relational (paternity) tests conducted by AABB Accredited laboratories. Of the 382,199 tests; 90,656 returned as “exclusions”. In other words, approximately 25% of paternity tests conducted in 2010 by AABB Accredited labs proved that a man identified as or as a possible father for a child were eliminated as candidates through DNA testing.
Twenty-Five Percent!!!! The AABB places a disclaimer in each of their annual reports stating they have “seen the exclusion rate misused by several organizations”, so I will try to explain why this exclusion rate is STILL a problem in America without “misusing” the AABB statistics. First, however, I must state that in 2009, I personally contacted the AABB’s public relations department and was told that they exclusion rate was misused, and that they “know from experience” that more often than not, the man “knows” he is not the father. I suppose, somehow, that makes the whole thing more palatable for some.
It is difficult to gauge how many men and children step in to a DNA testing laboratory to answer the question of paternity because they truly do not know. In my several years of working to collect data on Paternity Fraud, I have not found a single study which identifies WHY the paternity test is being conducted. At one point, I spoke with several DNA testing facilities, and asked if they would be willing to collect a completely voluntary, and fully anonymous. My ONLY request of the testing facilities, is that they allow me to place a locked box for collecting the questionnaires; each request was met with a resounding “NO!”. With that, the only thing we have to depend on that may indicate who is tested and for what purpose, is the disclaimer of the AABB, stating that “some” of the men and children tested know there is no relationship.
So, lets give the AABB the benefit of the doubt, and say that “only” 50% of the eliminated fathers knew they were not the biological parent, and were having the test conducted to overcome the antiquated anti-bastardization laws, which continue to plague American Family Law. (another subject for another time) So we have now reduced the number of eliminated men from 25% to 12.5%. Maybe this is a bit more acceptable for some folks, but this is still a problem.
Let’s say for instance you were going to purchase a home, and your real estate agent informed you that there was a 12.5 percent chance that the land your home was built on would develop a sink-hole and swallow your investment, leaving you with nothing. Would you buy it?
Maybe, you were going to purchase an automobile, and you were informed that there was a 12.5% chance that it would break down to a point beyond affordable repair within a year. Would you take it?
This percentage can be applied to a myriad of other scenarios, and there are not many that a consumer would be willing to accept the 12.5% likelihood of losing their investment.
Back to the point. In the same year the AABB released it’s most recently accessible report on Paternity Testing (2010), there were 3,999,386 births in the United States. If 12.5% of those were cases of paternity fraud, there would be 499,923.25 children in America calling the wrong man Father, and the same number of men in America not knowing they were the father of a child.
What if we were to take that 12.5% number and apply it to the number of births over the span of a decade?
Let’s take 2000-2010: According to the US Centers for Disease Control, between 2000 and 2010, there were approximately 40,861,257 live births in the United States. When applying the 12.5% number to all live births during that time period, would give us a possible 5,107,657.125 children in the United States that call the wrong man father, and the same number of men in the United States who do not know they have a child.
In 2010, the city of Los Angeles was home to, 3,792,621 people. Over the course of 10 years we could exceed the population of LA with children who do not know the identity of their biological father.
How palatable is that 12.5% now?
If the CDC were to track Paternity Fraud in the same manner is tracks disease, an effect of 12.5% of a population would have the disease labeled an “epidemic”. Even the CDC, however, chooses to turn a blind eye to this widespread issue.
Many people in American society choose to dismiss the issue of Paternity Fraud as, “just another man trying to find his way out of paying child support.” In some cases that may well be the truth, but if the child isn’t his, he kind of has the right to request that. But there is something greater at risk here. The health of a child.
Imagine a child going to the doctor and the physician collecting a family medical history. The mother gives her history, and the father gives his. The problem? The wrong man is giving his medical history. Genetic disorders ranging from Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (AATD), a disease effecting the normal function of the lungs to Gaucher Disease, which does not allow the body to process certain fats, to something as rare is Wilson’s Disease, where the body stores the copper from foods, can go unrecognized, diagnosis can be delayed, etc. If there is a need for each biological parent to give a sample of blood, to identify certain genetic mutations; the mutation may not be present in the misidentified father, and put the health and even the life of the child at risk.
Fighting Paternity Fraud is less about money, and more about the child.
Can someone that finds out he is not the father of a child, request that the mother disclose the real father?
To put it simply, NO!!!
In cases where the parents of the child are not married, the man and woman can go to the administration office at the local hospital and sign an Affidavit of Paternity. In some states, a young man of only 16 years can sign one of these affidavits WITHOUT the presence of a parent or consenting adult. The mother signs the affidavit, under the penalty of perjury stating that there is no other possible father for the child in question. This means the courts cannot compel the mother, at a later date to disclose the name(s) of any other possible fathers, because they would be forcing her to perjure herself, a violation of the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution. Additionally, the courts may choose to not allow the mother to voluntarily disclose the name(s) of any other possible fathers for the same reason.
The majority of states in the United States, under Uniform Parenting Laws, allow for a period of 2 to 4 years for one of the signatory people on the Affidavit of Paternity to request the removal of the father’s name. However, how that process is achieved varies by state. In many states, if the man “held out the child as his own” (regardless of the circumstances which compelled him to do so); the courts can deny the request for removal. Also, if the child receives any type of state assistance, medical, food, money, etc. The state itself becomes a party to the proceedings, and will fight against the removal of the man from the birth certificate even IF the two parents agree that to be the best solution.
In cases where the parents of the child ARE married, the man is presumed by law to be the father of the child. (Again the archaic anti-bastardization laws come in to play) This means there is absolutely no means for the man to find relief should it be found at a later date he is not the biological father of the child. In MOST states, any child born within 8 months of the finalization of a divorce is considered the child of the man the woman had been previously married.
Paternity Fraud is not entertainment, it is a serious issue that effects hundreds of thousands of children and men throughout the United States, and the world. It is basically legalized and accepted as the by-product of “good family law” throughout the US, but the reality is that Paternity Fraud hurts not only the child and the man; it hurts society. Benefits are paid to the mother for telling lies, men are left to struggle to provide for their own biological children, children’s lives are put at risk, other men have been denied the privileged of fatherhood, the family of the wrongly identified man are effected by the news of the fraud, the mans other children, who called the child “brother” or “sister” are faced with the news that that portion of their life has been a lie. The family of the biological father are denied the opportunity to be grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. This is NOT a victimless crime.
I personally have been the victim of Paternity Fraud, I have experienced first hand the devastation such a lie can bring upon a family. I am a disabled Veteran, I cannot work because of severe headaches that put me out for weeks. I live on a limited income, which I raise my two biological sons, and pay my bills. Until recently, I paid 300 dollars a month for a child that I had proven through DNA evidence was not mine.
I continue this fight not because it will benefit me. I fight so that my sons and nephews will not have to live in an America where fraud is acceptable at any level. Where the possibility of some girl playing “pick a daddy” will not exist, and the worry of having to support a child that does not belong to them is no longer a reality.
There will be more to follow including:
My own Paternity Fraud Story
Anti-Bastardization in the Middle Ages, and how it is Applied to American Family Law.
The Health Risks of Paternity Fraud
The Psychological Impact of Paternity Fraud
And Much More……
Thank you for reading, and PLEASE follow me.