Battling The Abuse of 'Paternity Fraud'
December 5, 2002
Suppose a man -- against his protests -- is accused by a woman of being the father of her child. Then he is ordered by the courts to pay child support, a not uncommon occurrence.
But the advent of genetic testing has given wrongfully accused "fathers" a scientific means of establishing their innocence. Nevertheless, the laws in many states haven't caught up to the scientific process.
- In less than a dozen states, men have won the right to use conclusive genetic tests to end their financial obligations to children they didn't father.
- But women's groups and many public officials responsible for enforcing child support still support the mother's accusations in most other states.
- Most states design their family laws to protect what they call "the interests of the child" -- which means siding with the child's emotional and financial needs against the interests of the accused "father."
- Taxpayers and voters tend to side with the status quo -- recognizing that if the real father isn't found, public funds will have to be used to support the child.
Paternity fraud is no small problem. The American Association of Blood Banks says the 300,000 plus paternity tests it conducted in 2000 ruled out nearly 30 percent of men as the father.
Men who feel they are victims of their state's laws are beginning to band together to have the laws changed. As one victim points out, DNA testing can clear a man of murder or rape, but it won't release him from child support obligations.
Source: Martin Kashindorf, "Men Wage Battle on 'Paternity Fraud,'" USA Today, December 3, 2002.
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