Paternity is one of the major family law issues that frequently comes up in cases involving child custody, child visitation, and child support.
In these types of cases, proving paternity is often a necessary requirement in order for a party to be able to receive a ruling in their favor. This includes making the biological father pay child support or granting child custody or visitation rights to one or both of the parties.
Paternity fraud on the other hand refers to any instance of fraud that is connected to a court-mandated paternity issue. For instance, a party may engage in fraudulent behavior to either avoid the legal duties associated with paternity, or to obtain benefits from a party by establishing their paternity (e.g., child support payments).
As an example, when contesting paternity, the alleged father of a child may make certain misrepresentations regarding their relationship to the child or with the child’s mother. They may claim they never had relations with the child’s mother or that they are not in fact the biological father of the child.
Another example may be when the mother of a child has an affair with someone who is not her husband and gets pregnant. The mother then may claim that the child actually belongs to the husband, when in reality, the other person that they had an affair with is the child’s biological father.
If afterwards the couple files for divorce and the husband is still under the impression that they are the biological father, then they will be held liable for child support unless they can prove another party is the actual father.
In either of the above examples, it is considered illegal to make such misrepresentations before a court or on court documents. Thus, if paternity fraud can be proven, it can create some serious legal issues.
What are Some Common Types of Paternity Fraud?
Some common types of paternity fraud include:
- Lying on a court application or during a court interview about the child’s actual father;
- Tampering with paternity DNA test results;
- Forcing someone to sign paperwork, such as a child’s birth certificate, to prove that they are the father when in fact they are not; and
- Making any misrepresentations after or during a pregnancy, (i.e., prenatal paternity test).
Additionally, it is important to note that paternity fraud can also involve other parties aside from the parents or the alleged parents of the child. For instance, if a doctor or other clinical professional is found to have tampered with the paternity test results, they may face legal consequences as well.
Similarly, any witnesses who are called to testify in court during a paternity hearing can face legal ramifications if they falsify or lie on the stand while giving their testimonies.
What are the Consequences of Paternity Fraud?
There are several consequences that can stem from a conviction of paternity fraud. One of those consequences involves being issued a contempt order. A contempt of court order means that the person misbehaved in such a way that it prevented the judge from doing their job, which includes allowing them to properly administer justice.
For example, in a paternity fraud case, the judge may hold a person in contempt for lying or falsifying information about the paternity test. When this occurs, the judge may issue a contempt order, which can result in criminal charges. This is especially true if the person’s conduct amounted to a major violation. The person will then be liable for having to pay criminal fines and possibly having to serve a prison sentence.
Although contempt orders are one of the only ways in which a person might be able to hold the other party responsible for committing paternity fraud, it can have far-reaching consequences.
For instance, if a mother commits paternity fraud and receives a contempt order for their behavior, not only may they lose the right to collect child support from the other party, but they also will have to endure having criminal charges on their public record.
Additionally, while the victim of paternity fraud will not be able to recover any previously paid child support, they are allowed to seek out the child’s actual biological father and can sue them for reimbursement instead.
Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for Help with Paternity Fraud Issues?
Paternity fraud is highly discouraged conduct that a person should refrain from doing because it can result in very serious legal issues. It also can have an effect on how a child is brought up through to adulthood, which may have a negative impact on their life in ways that go beyond their childhood.
Thus, you may want to consider hiring a local family lawyer if you need assistance with any type of issues involving paternity and paternity fraud.
An experienced family lawyer will be able to give you legal advice that is specific to your situation and can help you prepare a case if necessary. An attorney can also provide representation during any paternity hearings or meetings, and may help to ensure that your legal rights are being sufficiently protected.
Remember, in cases that involve children and family law issues, it is not only your life that you need to think about, but also your child’s as well.