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What is paternity fraud?

Paternity fraud impacts fathers' rights and has consequences for child support payments, among other things. It takes place when a mother knowingly misidentifies a man as the biological father of her child. This fraud also occurs when she suspects that the man identified on the birth certificate is not genetically connected to the child.

One method of committing a fraud is requesting a man to execute an affidavit of paternity or birth certificate form for a child when he has no biological connection to that child. Usually, the child's mother makes this request. States complicate this matter when using these documents instead of a DNA test to establish paternity before ordering child support.

In Arizona, there is a presumption of paternity if the man and the mother were married during the 10 months before the birth, genetic testing shows a 95 percent probability of paternity, the birth certificate of a child born out of wedlock is signed by the mother and father, or both parents signed a notarized or witnessed statement acknowledging paternity. Clear and convincing evidence can refute any of these presumptions.

Courts may decide whether child support payments may continue even after paternity fraud is established. Focusing on the best interests of the child, the judge may end these payments or order their continuation. For example, a court may order payments to continue if the man paid support over time and acted as the child's father.

Generally, there are no consequences for mothers who commit this fraud. A parent who suspects fraud should immediately undergo a DNA test.

Source: Arizona State Legislature, "25-814. Presumption of paternity," accessed on Aug. 28, 2017

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