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How does paternity fraud occur?

Many residents of Phoenix, Arizona, are probably aware that a man can become the legal father of a child, and thus have the right to have a relationship with that child and a duty to support that child, by submitting to DNA testing. This type of testing is very accurate and can determine almost to a point of certainty whether a man is the father of a particular child.

However, DNA testing is not the only way for a man to establish paternity, that is, to become the legal father of a child. Generally speaking, this is a good thing since it saves men time and money when they know a child is biologically theirs. However, these other means of establishing paternity can open up the possibility of paternity fraud or, to use a slightly gentler phrase, "misattributed paternity."

For instance, previous posts here discussed Arizona's Acknowledgement of Paternity form, in which the man formally declares that he is indeed the father of the child. However, if one thinks about it, any man needs to rely to some extent on the trustworthiness of the child's mother before signing the form.

If it turns out that the child is biologically not his, the man who signed will still be the legal father and still be expected to pay child support. Unless he discovers this early on, within 60 days of signing, the only way around this will be to prove in court that the mother or someone else outright lied to the man in order to get him to sign the form.

Misattributed paternity can also happen in marriages, as a man who is legally married to the mother of the child is presumed to be the child's father, even without a DNA test. Again, court action would ordinarily be required if it turns out that another man was actually the child's biological father.

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