January 18, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
My next-to-last piece was about the State of Oklahoma’s enthusiasm for paternity fraud. There, a man identified only as “Thomas” is being forced to pay child support for a child who’s not his. Why? Because the state only allows men two years from the date of the child’s birth to contest paternity. Stated another way, a mother need only convince a man he’s her child’s father for a couple of years and, regardless of everything else, he’s on the hook.
That of course is unjust to everyone but Mom. The child doesn’t get to have a relationship with its true father and likely won’t have information that could be vital to its medical care at any time in its life. Plus, the real father doesn’t get to have a relationship with his child and the non-father is forced to support a child who’s not his. And of course the non-dad gets to do that while knowing Mom both cheated on and lied to him. How many men want to write a check every month to a woman like that? Finally, the legal system suffers yet another loss of credibility and respect due to its support of plainly immoral behavior, i.e. lying about paternity.
The only person who benefits is the wrongdoer, the mother who lied to two men, her child, the state and possibly a court of law.
Meanwhile, there are many common-sense reforms that would make the law fairer and more sensible. Requiring mothers to tell the truth about paternity would be one. The least Mom should be required to do is to tell the state’s bureau of vital statistics that she doesn’t know who the dad is and identify all possible parties. That way, genetic testing could be done and the real father known from the outset.
Another would be to simply test each child and each potential father at birth. That would be expensive, but it would also save a lot of litigation and, more importantly, every child would know its real father from roughly day one.
Some might question whether this is an important issue. After all, how many instances of paternity fraud are there? The news reports on them fairly frequently, but that alone scarcely means that a large percentage of children are born with a misidentified man as their dad.
Remarkably, there are no very good statistics on the matter. We have no clear idea of the rate of paternity fraud. And that’s odd given that it would be a relatively easy thing to establish. So we have to use what data we do have to try to figure out how many kids out there have been lied to about their paternity.
Which brings me to this (Manchester Evening News, 1/3/17). The British testing company, DNA Clinics, a subsidiary of BioClinics Group, decided to analyze its own data. It selected at random 5,000 DNA tests conducted over a 2 ½ year period ending in June of 2016. It found that a whopping 48% of the tests showed that the man who thought he was the father of a child wasn’t. Similar data in the United States gathered by the American Association of Blood Banks (the organization charged with accrediting genetic testing laboratories) give annual rates of false paternity of between 25% and 30%.
Now, neither set of data in any way indicates that 25%, 30% or 48% is the rate of false paternity across the general population. The reason the figures can’t be extrapolated that way is that both organizations (the British and the American) are sampling populations of people – men and women – who, for whatever reason, question paternity. In other words, there’s a definite selection bias in the figures.
As I said, we really have no idea of what the actual figure for false paternity in the general population is.
Still, 48% is a lot, by any standard. So are the AABB’s figures. Years ago I gave it my best shot and concluded that somewhere around 7% of all babies born in a given year in the U.S. were fathered by men other than the one said to be the dad. If that were true, it would mean about 300,000 kids per year and about 5.4 million children under the age of 18 who don’t know their real father.
Interestingly, the study found that, “More and more tests are being organised by the mother rather than the doubting father.” I’d like to know the reason for that.
Nicola McChrystal, scientific director of the BioClinics Group echoed what I’ve been saying for many years.
“These cases are testament to the fact that establishing paternity when a child is young is the best course of action.
Yes, in fact it should be established before the child leaves the hospital for the first time. Birth certificate data shouldn’t be left to the whims of the mother, but should be based on hard scientific fact. For the first time in history, we have the ability to know for certain who a child’s father is. We should use it.
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