A number of U.S. jurisdictions presume that a man is a child’s father if he was married to the child’s mother when the child was born. If the parents are unmarried when the child is born, a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity will establish a legal relationship between a man and a child. However, in Arizona and throughout the rest of the country, mistakes and even malicious conduct can give a man paternal responsibilities over a child that is biologically not his offspring.
When a woman claims that a child is a man’s offspring, she may assert the right to pursue child support from him. In some cases, however, it may not be clear who is the child’s father, or the woman may fraudulently claim a man is the father when she knows he is not.
One way to counter a claim of paternity is to submit to DNA testing. DNA tests compare biological information from the child and the alleged father to determine if they are related. If the tests show no connection between the child and the man, he may be relieved of his responsibility to pay child support.
Proving paternity fraud or error in court can be challenging. To do so a man may have to provide the court with substantial personal information in order to avoid the responsibilities that should only attach through legitimate fatherhood. When confronted with an erroneous or fraudulent claim of paternity, a man may be well-served to consult with a family law attorney who includes fathers’ rights as a part of their legal practice.