When Daddy Isn’t Daddy After All

Here’s an interesting article in the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism about so-called “paternity fraud” cases. These are cases — many of them headline-grabbers — in which a man who has thought himself to be the father of a child for years discovers as the result of a DNA test that he is not the biological father. What is he to do?

Many of these fathers are filing to be relieved from the duty to support their children, alleging “paternity fraud.” In doing so they often compare their efforts to those who have been wrongly convicted and now have been exonerated by DNA evidence.

I can’t find the article on the Internet, so here’s the full cite to it: Jacobs, Melanie S., When Daddy Doesn’t Want to be Daddy Anymore: An Argument Against Paternity Fraud Claims, 16 Yale Journal of Law & Feminism 193 (2004). Jacobs challenges the term “paternity fraud,” pointing out that the mothers in these cases often are neither devious or fraudulent, but simply mistaken.

She argues that the real victims of paternity fraud filings are not “Jezebel” women who deviously manipulate hapless men. The real victims, she says, are children, many times children who have a long and well-established parental bond with the man they know as their father.

Jacobs says the whole phenomenon of paternity fraud cases has arisen in the wake of — and in large part because of — the new emphasis on child support enforcement. She acknowledges that about a third of paternity tests exclude the man being tested as the father and concludes from this that there are many men who are raising children as their own who are not their biological father. The fundamental challenge, she says, is weighing the interest of men who wish to be free of financial burdens against those of children who need a father.

Jacobs argues that we as a society have paid too much attention to the biology of parenting and not enough to the functionality of parenting. She points out the many ways in which we recognize already that funcional parenting may “trump” biology, and she advocates our doing that with paternity fraud cases as well.

5 comments

  1. Robert Ballou says:

    I have been paying child support for 15 years and the last 3 years knowing and fighting in and out if court that the child is not mine. i do not have a relationship with the child
    and when the mother found out that i got a DNA test on my own to only settle my own fears
    found out that the child was not mine ….she got mad real mad and took me back for more support. Only using the child to call me up and scream at me how could you do this and some other nasty things that could only have come from her mother. Now i have her in FEDERAL court
    in a civil suit against my civil rights for indenturing me to pay the debt of another
    this is slavery. I am the first victim here and was long before the child was born.After all this came about the mother should have spent her time looking for the real father so the child could know him, instead of lying to her and me while still continuing to drag this through the courts and still have nothing good come of all this

  2. STEVE FOLEY says:

    I AM ALSO A VICTIM OF PATERNITY FRAUD. I WAS MARRIED FOR 20 YEARS AND FOUND OUT 1 1/2 YEARS AGO THAT THE 16 YEAR OLD WAS NOT MINE BUT A PRODUCT OF AN AFFAIR. BOTH MY EXWIFE AND THE ACTUAL PATERNAIL FATHER KNEW ALL ALONG I WAS NOT THE “REAL DAD” OF THIS CHILD.
    MY HEARING COMES UP ON SEPTEMBER 2ND.2005 IN THE STATE OF WASHINGTON. OTHERSIDE DEFENCE TO GET THIS THROWN OUT IS THAT THERE IS NO WRONGFUL LIFE AND THIS SHOULD NOW BECOME A MORAL ISSUE IN AN IMMORAL ACT??? THE WRONGFUL LIFE DEFENCE I FEEL IS PRETTY WEAK BECAUSE IT HAS VERY LITTLE TO DO WITH THAT. ITS MOSTLY JUST A FRAUD ISSUE AND WAS DENIED MY RIGHT TO DISESTABLISH A RELATIONSHIP WTIH A CHILD THAT WAS NOT MINE.

  3. womanxxx says:

    but you signed the birth certificate and raised the child.
    whats the diffrence if child is biologically yours or not
    like adoption.

  4. devon king says:

    question,i signed the birth certificate but im not the father and now im geting divorced.the baby is one month and a couple of days old my wife wants me to pay child support could i contest paternity and give up my parental rights as the dad even though im not the father.

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