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« Mediation Certification and Credentialing: Getting Accurate Information on Becoming a Mediator | Main | Bowl For Kids' Sake »

January 24, 2007


Theresa Glennon was quoted as saying: "[Paternity fraud relief] is really about men deserting children they have been parenting."

I disagree.

Ohio's law makes relief from the paternity judgment conditional on when the father knew of his non-paternity.[1] That prevents the father from simply claiming non-paternity when it suits him. The court also determines separately when visitation rights should be terminated, modified, or continued.[2] Moreover, if the court denies relief from the paternity judgment, the movant father must pay all of the other party's court costs and reasonable attorney fees.[3] Thus, the movant/father must strongly consider whether he has a case before seeking the relief.

This is not about "desertion," but about avoiding wrongful child support.

[1] O.R.C. 3119.962(B).
[2] O.R.C. 3119.964.
[3] O.R.C. 3119.966.

Although Todd's first idea initially seems very appealing, requiring DNA tests at the hospital may create less than desirable effects. Requiring mandatory DNA testing, i.e. after conception, would create all types of constitutional questions. Without question, medical utility would need to be proven before legislators would inact or even consider such a bill. And even adopting a Pollyanna outlook won't convince us that such a law would deter women from having affairs. Rather, mandatory DNA testing would probably increase the number of aborted pregnancies. Very few will think this is a viable solution, at least in Kentucky.

The second idea Todd presents is much more viable. The increasing workload of our judicial branch could create the legs needed to get such a bill through the legislature. But this approach even creates numerous problems. For example, would a bill of this nature need to be retroactive? If so, how far back?

Something must be done, for too many lives hang in the balance. The most important being the child.

One solution is to convince and educate mothers about the harmful effects of paternity fraud. And provide support systems when women find themselves in these difficult situations. Finally, the best solution is for mothers to tell the truth! We can't expect our children to tell the truth if we don't set the example.

Paternity cases are an everyday occurence throughout the United States, so what makes this story so unique? There are a couple of reasons why this story is ripe. First, it shows that law makers are finally taking notice of a growing problem - paternal fraud (only after a great deal of lobbying though). Second, it demonstrates that illegitimacy no longer carries a societal stigma (which is way overdue, for the child is innocent).

More and more women are having affairs, which can and does often result in the birth of an illegitimate child. In most cases, the affair is usually the result of a weakening marriage versus uncontrolled sexual impulses. It's been proven over and over again that the majority of such pregnancies result from lengthy affairs, whereas a child born from a "one night stand" represents a miniscule proportion. However, when a wife's fraud is detected they usually claim the latter, and the husband being unaware of the affair is usually unaware of the marital problems; so he unknowingly accepts the explanation (the lesser of two evils). Correspondingly, most women who engage in affairs, which have a child from the affair, recognize the loopholes in the law. These women know they can rely on the "presumption of paternity" in many states, which gives fathers the unenviable task of fighting long and costly legal battles. Remember, deception is intrinsic to an affair.

Rawes' article raises many questions: Why don't women divorce their husbands if they're not happy? Why don't we make DNA tests mandatory at the hospitals? Why have so many legislators been slow to change the laws? Why don't the wives consider everyone involved? Why don't the women consider the biological fathers?

The last question is the most interesting. Too long society has assumed the biological father prefers to disappear, which is not always the case. Mothers who commit paternity fraud against their husbands are also commiting fraud against the child's biological father.

DNA tests have been traditionally used by mothers to hold fathers accountable, yet a new trend is emerging. The legal community is noticing a rise in the number of putative fathers using DNA results to establish parentage. Increasingly, this is a trend among cases regarding untruthful mothers.

Consider when a married woman conceives as the result of an extra-marital affair, especially when the marriage has already produced children. The mother usually prefers the willing biological father to remain a mystery. In many instances the mother deceives her husband, yet in some cases the husband knows (and actively participates in the deception).

Mothers who find themselves in such circumstances usually claim it is in the best interest of the child not to know the father. However, both psychology and science reveal a child's healthy development is increasingly improved with the participation of both biological parents. Not to mention, is it fair to the father or child to exclude the natural father? Moreover, is it healthy or moral to deceive the child? The scenario is increasingly disturbing when the husband participates in the deception.

There are many biological fathers who desire to be exactly what they are -- "fathers". The idea that only mothers use DNA results is a notion that should be dispelled. Trends increasingly demonstrate natural fathers are now using DNA tests/results to prove, establish, and maintain their rights as fathers. The idea of men proving their fatherhood with DNA results may initially seem foreign, however it's the new trend around the world. The days of married women claiming they are in intact marriages and natural fathers should be denied their natural "God given" rights are quickly disappearing.

Overwhelmingly, evidence concludes that children conceived as the result of an extra-marital affair can not and should not be considered the result of an intact marriage. The law and common sense should defend this as the truth. There should be no question that children are born "out of wedlock" when conceived as the result of an extra-marital affair.

Scientists, i.e. through DNA testing, have given us a tool to determine the truth regarding our offspring, and such a tool should be used in all cases where paternity is questioned. This should include and not be limited to cases where the mother and father are married, but should include cases when the father and mother are unmarried and in cases where the mother is married to another man besides the real father.

Our legal system is based on truth and justice. Isn't it about time the truth, as revealed through DNA, determines the identity of both willing and unwilling fathers? The trends say it is happening!

I've been thinking that it might be wise to simply require the hospitals to do a DNA match of all at birth. In those cases where the parties are married or committed/involved, it would foreclose late, heartbreaking surprises.

The other statutory change I'd look for is that no decree for paternity could be entered without a DNA match. While an uncooperative paternity defendant could be subject to a temporary order, he could terminate it by showing that the DNA doesn't match.

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