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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.  

June 24, 2015
By Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The organization Women Against Paternity Fraud has this fine article calling for changes in how paternity is established, particularly in Title IV-D cases. They’re the ones in which a single mother has received federal welfare benefits and for which the child’s father is required by law to reimburse the state. One major problem with that is that there’s no requirement anywhere that the mother identify the correct man as the father. So we see many cases in which a man who’s not the father is identified and required to repay the government and continue paying to support the child. Meanwhile, the actual father pays nothing and likely has no idea he even has a child.

I’ve blogged many times about how little sense that makes. Effectively, it puts the onus on the man identified by the mother to disprove paternity. That can be done if he appears in court, but, as the article points out, in Los Angeles County for example, some 80% of Title IV-D paternity establishments are finalized via default judgments. That means the man wasn’t there to contest the matter.

Everywhere else in American law, we require the person with the information to make the disclosure. If a person sells his/her car, knowing of a defect in it, the purchaser isn’t required to find out about the defect, the owner is required to disclose it. The same is true in all commercial transactions, down to and including lists of ingredients on food packages.

But when it comes to establishing paternity, we do the opposite. The mother knows with whom she had sex at or near the time of conception, but the man only knows that he did. If there’s another possible dad, he very likely doesn’t know about him. But Mom does know. As such, she should be the one to tell the state authorities the names of all possible fathers, but nothing in the law requires her to do so.

The law has it backwards. Women Against Paternity Fraud wants to change that.

Coincidentally, the State of Georgia just passed a law that will essentially do away with paternity fraud in Title IV-D cases. Here’s my blog post on that.

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