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NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

August 19th, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
The ballots are in, the polls are closed and the votes have been counted.  Mothers have voted on the question of paternity fraud and, although the vote was close, they’re in favor of it.  Such, at any rate, is the conclusion to draw from this site (Circle of Moms, 7/31/12).  Of course, it’s a highly unscientific way to study mothers’ opinions on paternity fraud, but it’s interesting to read what the commenters have to say about a question a woman named Lacey wrote in to ask.

My son is just a few days old. I didn’t tell the man I believe to be the father he was born. I don’t want my son around him or his family because they are so mentally unstable. If he can’t contact me and he doesn’t know where I live anymore is there anyway for him to get a DNA test orderd through the court?

So, Lacey’s question is a practical one – can the dad get a DNA test ordered by a court if he finds out about his son?  The simple, straightforward answer is “yes,” but  few people addressed themselves to the actual question.  Instead, and much more interestingly, the thread immediately became a discussion of paternity fraud generally.  Twenty-two different people commented in 64 separate comments, and the results are these:  11 people said some version of “you don’t have to tell him,” “it’s your decision,” “do what you think is best for your child;” eight commenters offered the opinion that “every father has the right to know about his child,” or “children need their fathers” or “if the guy was good enough to have sex with, he’s good enough to tell about his child.”  Three comments were too inscrutable to characterize.  In short, on this site at least, Moms agree with the law – they have no obligation to tell a dad about his child.  If they want to, fine; if they don’t, fine as well.

Even those who favored telling the man didn’t necessarily do so on moral grounds, although some did.  Here’s Lacye and Julianne:

Here’s the thing:

You had sex with the dude knowing you wouldn’t want to have a child with him. You may not like him or his family, but he has every right to know he might have a son out there. You made the choice to lay down with him, now you need to do the right thing and tell him. If he ever does find out that he had a child and you never told him, he could take you to court. I don’t like my husband’s family before we got married but I would never keep our daughter away from him. That is just so wrong in so many ways.

Yes, technically your son is 50% his. Its not right to keep a father away from his child, regardless of your relationship with the man. You need to do the right thing and tell him about his child.

Then there were others who encouraged telling the dad, not because it’s the right thing to do, but because Lacey might get in trouble if she doesn’t.

Hiding the fact that he has a child could give him grounds to win full custody if he ever finds out and takes you to court. Is hiding your son worth the risk that you may lose him for good?

The implication is that, if Mom is confident that she can hide the child from the dad, then it’s OK to do so.  The only issue for that person was whether Dad would find out.  She has no concept that it might be morally wrong or that the child might need his father or that the father has a right to parent his child.  No, she advises Lacey to tell, but only for selfish reasons.

Those opposed to telling the father never doubt that the father’s rights to his child and the child’s rights to his father should be exercised solely by the mother.  Some are a bit cautious with what they say:

Be cautious with your actions and think through what you want and why you want it. In some states, DCF has the right to file for child support on your behalf, even if you do not want them to. Forcing a paternity test will open a floodgate of issues. At this point, only you can decide which route to take and why you want to take it. Think it through before taking any action.

Others aren’t.

It’s your right to choose. It’s no different than going to a sperm bank and becoming pregnant with in-vetro, it’s just cheaper. If you don’t mind not collecting child support to raise your kid, then I see no problem with it.
Then, as night follows day, there are those who assume that the man is abusive.  Never mind that Lacey said no such thing; never mind that he’s completely unaware that his child exists and therefore can’t have behaved abusively toward it.  More than one commenter informed Lacey that it’s all about keeping her son safe and therefore she has no obligation to tell.
Beyond that, there’s the usual flurry of comments that are posted solely because the person wants to tell her own story about what a S.O.B. her husband/boyfriend is.  And of course, what blog thread on such a topic would be complete without some bad legal advice?  On this one there’s plenty.  For example:
If you don’t know who the father is then the only way for him to get a court ordered DNA test is if you listed him as the father and he wants to have proof. If you didn’t list him on the birth certificate he can’t do anything.
Completely wrong.  In most states, anyone can file a paternity suit.  If he finds out about the child and tells the court, via affidavit, that he had sex with the mother at or near the time of conception, since Mom’s not married, he can definitely get a DNA test.
About midway through the thread, one of the “mothers must tell fathers” group gets so disgusted with the excuses of the others that she posts this that’s perhaps my favorite:
Why don’t we all have sex with scumbags, get pregnant, and then deny our children the right to know their fathers because of OUR stupid choices then? Sounds like a plan. Sheesh… I hate this world sometimes. People are ridiculous.
Sadly, much of the thread is taken up with the obligatory “my feelings are hurt,” “you’re insensitive” posts.
The final indignity comes when, before all the posting is done, the moderator puts a stop to it because Lacey has canceled her account and isn’t receiving the comments anyway.
All in all, most of the thread could pass for a side show at a carnival of bad thinking and bad grammar, but not a reasoned response to Lacey’s question.  But even at that, it’s a fascinating take on an issue that’s extremely important to men.  The bottom line seems to be that, although many women grasp the concept that mothers shouldn’t decide what rights fathers and children have, most of them don’t.  And as I said, in that, they’re exactly in line with family law that has never required a woman to tell a man about his child.

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