Paternityis one of the areas of family law where men are routinely discriminated against. Whether it is the denial of paternity rights or being the unlawful victim of paternity fraud, fathers must be careful, as paternity law is complex. As more children are born out of wedlock, paternity problems will only become more common.
Over the last 50 years the number of children born to unmarried parents has increased from 5% to 41%, according to a Pew Research Center study on the rise of new family types.
Thus, far more children now live with an unmarried parent. This change from the typical family unit has caused an increase in conflicts between the unwed parents when issues regarding child support and visitation arise.
As a result of these trends, there are large numbers of unwed fathers who need advice concerning their paternity rights when the child is born.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments about gender discrimination and citizenship that father’s and men’s rights groups are calling an unconstitutional double standard.
Currently, children born overseas who have one U.S.-citizen parent can obtain U.S. citizenship if the citizen parent had been physically present in the U.S. for a certain period of time before the child’s birth, according to the Supreme Court’s blog. If the citizen parent is the father, the period is five years; if it is the mother, the period is one year.
So it is much easier for mothers to pass on citizenship to their children than for fathers. The court must consider if the mother-path to citizenship (which is four years shorter than the father-path) is unconstitutional gender-based discrimination.
When a child is involved in an international parental kidnapping dispute, the non-offending parent should look to the Hague Convention for guidance.
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a treaty between countries that agree to cooperate and abide one set of laws, the Hague Convention, for the return of children removed from their home country for custody disputes.
International child abduction is a crime in every U.S. state and in some cases the abducting parent can be charged with a federal crime under the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act.
Nevertheless, international parental kidnapping continues to happen. The Office of Children's Issues at the State Department lists on its website measures to help prevent this horrible situation from occurring.
As a member of the board of directors of the national organization Fathers & Families, Robert Franklin is an active father’s rights advocate.
Franklin is pushing for mandatory DNA testing at all births to help combat paternity fraud. Using data from the Bureau of Vital Statistics and some assumptions, he estimates in the United States alone between 280,000 to 410,000 children are born to men who think they are the father but are not.
“In every case of paternity fraud, there are two men being defrauded,” Franklin said.
He talked with the Men's Rights site about paternity fraud and solutions to this growing problem.
Have doubts that you are the father of your pregnant partner’s child? The most important action you can take to prevent paternity fraud is to request a DNA test at the hospital to confirm that you are the father BEFORE you sign the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form.
In most jurisdictions, genetic testing is not required to establish paternity; all that is required is a signed VAP form. VAP forms are available for fathers to sign at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth.
Hearing the words “I am pregnant,” can ignite a wide variety of feelings in a man.
He may be overjoyed, terrified, or a combination of the two. For the woman looking to commit paternity fraud, she is hoping that he is filled with the overwhelming sense of responsibility to do the right thing.
Paternity fraud occurs when a woman intentionally names a man to be the father of her child when she knows he is not the biological father, often for the purposes of collecting child support. Paternity fraud has many victims, including the non-biological father, the biological father, the families of both men, and most certainly the innocent child.
After 11 years of paying support to a child that wasn’t his, Carnell Smith organized an advocacy organization to fight paternity fraud.
The U.S. Citizens Against Paternity Fraud has successfully set up legislation in several states that allows men to use DNA tests to disprove paternity.
“We showed the legislature in Georgia, for example, that it was an absolute hypocrisy to require men to pay child support for children that are proven to not be theirs,” Smith said. “Some of the men never knew the children. There were even men who didn’t even know the mothers!”
Smith is also heading up a national survey, said to be the first of its kind that will examine the emotional, financial, legal, and social impact of paternity fraud on men.