Paternity Fraud

Expert studies suggest that around 3% of the child population of the world are growing up believing that they have been partly created by someone other than their true biological father.

There are many reasons why the parentage of a child can be questionable. It is not for the likes of me to delve into the rights or wrongs of that from any kind of moral viewpoint but the issue of wrongly named fathers can apply to the issue of fraud.

In several cases the true father of a child can be unknown due to the mother having had more than one partner around the time of conception. Subsequent events and discussions can then have an effect on who ends up being named on the baby’s birth certificate.

paternity fraud

paternity fraud

Paternity Fraud

The issue of paternity fraud arises when the mother names a man as a child’s father, quite deliberately, whilst knowing full well that he isn’t, or when she has serious doubts.

Paternity fraud is not a new phenomenon by any means. At the risk of being politically incorrect and sexist, I would suggest that in centuries gone by the need for a woman to have a man to protect her was essential. At the dawn of our existence a woman who was pregnant, or who had a small child or baby, would rely upon a man for protection and survival. When humans lived in caves a single mother simply would not have survived the harsh realities of life for very long.

In the modern day, the main motivator behind paternity fraud is more likely to be the child support / maintenance system. Here in the UK, like many other Western countries, as soon as a  woman names a man as the father of her baby she instantly becomes entitled to a huge array of benefits and payments.

Unlike traditional justice where one is innocent until proven guilty, the onus, and cost, is very much upon the man to prove that he is NOT the father or else he may become liable for providing the cost of housing and maintenance for both the mother and child.

Another motivation behind paternity fraud may be social or cultural reasons. Even in this liberal society in which we now live, there are many people who feel the need to be married before, during or very quickly after a pregnancy. To whom they are married may not be quite so important though!

Aditionally, there are some cultures and religions that almost dictate who their women can have relationships with. If these women should become pregnant by another man then the consequences can be extreme, even fatal in some cases.

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  1. Strange! I read historical as hysterical!

  2. Douglas Richardson says:

    Paternity Fraud is the perfect crime, it is the only fraud that is not punishable by law. Today is 10/30/07 if you go to the Dr Phil Website at you will see just how wide spread this really is.

    You asked, why cant DNA be used in paternity Fraud cases, even though the answe is unjust it is real, not only the mother and in my case the bio dad make financial gains, but so do the courts countys and states.

    The family courts do not care who pays as long as sone one does. It very sad.

  3. I had read this post earlier and wondered how can law force a man to pay for child support even after the DNA test proves he is not the father. Then why at all this testing is considered a legitimate evidence in other cases.

  4. I don’t know much about the law in your country Douglas but my heart goes out to you. It must be terrible to have missed out on that special relationship every dad should have with their son.

  5. Douglas Richardson says:

    Unfortunately, I have not seen my biological son to this relationship since he was two ½ years old, who is now 18. The one decision I made and advice I followed when proceeding through with this divorce was to trust my attorney (Bad Decision based off the unforeseen). Live and learn at the cost of a relationship with my son because I trusted his advice. Obviously, the presiding judge seen fit to total annihilate me from him as well. (Best Interest of the Child YAH. I wish this particular judge were still living so I could show him just what his discretion has done.

    One thing I would highly recommend is always remember attorneys representing parents have nothing at stake, it is our lives. When I petitioned the courts to end this my biological son emailed me claiming I was nothing but a sperm donor. Remember he was only two and ½ years old and is making decisions based off his up bringing and the claims his mother alleged about me.

    I learned a great deal with 4 individual emails he forwarded on to me including his mother informed him I flat out abandoned him, she failed to inform him It was an order of the courts, she also informed him I never paid my child support. All was very easy to prove otherwise witch I did by sending him court documentation. In the final email he stated, maybe my mom is hiding something, and he supported me in my fight to change laws, but was sorry it was the example of his family to charge with.

    All I can do is support other victims of paternity fraud by example; this is not only a crime by extortion (Legally) but also a crime of moral standards of the family robbing our rights under the constitution. I have not met one individual that argued my point, ONLY because I was ordered to pay child support directly to the biological father. While yes this case is one of the most egregious cases on the books, it would have been no different if I only had to pay the mother. It is wrong to support paternity fraud and the only individuals that would argue the point is obviously the states because of filling the pockets with federal funding no matter how its collected.

    In addition, of course many feminists will turn their heads to correctness to stand there ground trying to protect the right of opinion, to me this has nothing to do with the sexes just the same as rape, they are criminals and should be charged the same.

  6. Douglas, there isn’t much I can say to that.

    Thankyou for sharing your story which sounds painful, to say the least, in many ways.

    As I live in the UK I certainly do not understand the American legal system but I can see a lot of parallels with what goes on here.

    I will have to re-read that several times to take it all in but my first question, as a divorced father myself, would be whether you now have a fulfilling relationship with your own biological son from that first marriage?

  7. Douglas Richardson says:

    Dear Friends,

    I am writing this letter in the hope that it can benefit you and your family by helping you avoid the agonizing ordeal I have experienced. I have documented each and every bit of information that I reference in here, and I have made the information available if you wish to verify any portion of it. If you still are not sure whether to read further, please ask yourself the following question: Do you believe that the government is corrupt?

    If you answered “yes,” then sit back in your favorite reading chair and read on—you’ll see just how deplorable conditions have become in our fine state of Michigan and how these conditions threaten our families and children. If you answered “no,” I hope that for your sake and that of your family, the tale of my past will change your mind.

    Please understand my motives. I am not lashing out in search of revenge. I seek neither political nor monetary gain (besides recouping that which has been wrongfully taken from me). But each individual has limits, and when pushed beyond those limits a person has two options: become overwhelmed or push back. I have chosen the latter because nobody—and no government—has the right to deprive any of us of our pursuit of happiness by interfering with the well-being of our families.

    If you agree, I ask that you aid me by distributing copies of this letter across the state in an effort to augment the 5,000 copies I will personally hand out. Although this letter results from my personal hardship, I hope it can prevent other families from experiencing similar grief and pain.

    I. Background Information About a Corrupt System
    A. What is Paternity Fraud?

    Counterintuitive as it may seem, it is pretty common in our society that men are forced to pay child support for children who are not biologically theirs—even when the courts and the government are perfectly aware that they are not the father. This is paternity fraud, and it typically happens in two ways. The first, which is described in more detail below, involves an unwed mother who can name any man as the father in order to get welfare funds. The state gets more federal funding if there is a father named, so there is a big incentive to have a man listed so that the state can get support from him. There is no requirement that the man actually be the father. All the mother has to say is that the father is John Smith. She needs to offer no proof of even knowing the man, much less demonstrating a biological link between him and the child. She then provides an address for him, which also does not have to be accurate. She gets here welfare check and the state goes after the man to recoup the funds. The men often cannot be reached because the address the mother gave was not accurate, and typically these men do not even find out about the paternity claim until their wages have been garnished and their time for appeal has expired. This is a fundamental injustice: men who have no notice of what is going on and no chance to disprove paternity have their wages taken from them, and the law will continue to force them to pay child support even if DNA evidence proves the man cannot be the father.

    The second form of paternity fraud is what happened in my case. I was married to the mother and believed the child was mine. I fully accepted responsibility for him and was happy to support him. Later I discovered that the child was not actually my son, yet the court still required me to pay child support. This form of paternity fraud involves a man finding out he was not the father of a child he believed to be his own, but the courts still force him to pay child support—even if the biological father is in the picture.

    B. Modern-day Slavery

    Although it is true that on December 18, 1865, the 13th amendment of the Constitution formally freed the slaves, a different form of slavery remains active today. While pre-Civil War slaves were “chattel slaves”—slaves whose owners held legal title of them—today’s slaves, though not “owned” by another individual in the same sense, are nonetheless involuntarily pressed into service by the plague of paternity fraud.
    Almost no human condition can compare to the experience of the black American chattel slaves, of course, and I do not mean to belittle their plight, the effects of which continue to reverberate throughout our society some one-and-a-half centuries later. Rather, I merely mean to channel the outrage a decent society expresses towards slavery by highlighting its trait of involuntary and uncompensated servitude, a trait it shares with paternity fraud. Paternity fraud forces the victim to forfeit his wages to the fraud’s perpetrator. Refusing to work is not an option, and, as I frustratingly learned, the effects can easily and quickly progress beyond the point of legal recourse. As the 13th amendment prohibited such servitude in all its forms, the deplorable allowance of paternity fraud should not be allowed to stand.

    C. Why Paternity Fraud Occurs

    Although defining a child’s “best interest” is an inexact science, most would agree that a child’s best interest involves physical well-being and financial support. Determining who should ensure that well-being and provide the support requires establishing the child’s parentage. If the mother is married, the child is presumed to be the mother’s husband’s; however, if the mother is unmarried she has the broad power to name a father on the birth certificate.
    In order to alleviate strains on the welfare system, the state desires to find a father. Thus, the state has made it frighteningly simple for an unwed mother to announce a father of her choosing. Because the mother is not bound to provide accurate information, the alleged father often does not receive notice of the paternity claim, and the window of time to challenge it expires. Frequently, men don’t even find out about any of this until their wages are garnished and it’s too late. Paternity fraud also occurs in cases like mine, when a man believes he is the father only to later find out he is not, but still has to pay for the child.

    D. The Government’s Motivation

    Many members of the public too readily accept the motives of the government and the courts at face value, believing that these institutions have no interests in mind other than those of the child. A closer look, however, reveals a far less compassionate financial motive.
    If Michigan complies with Title 4D of the Social Security Act, it may receive a federal grant to fund its child support program. In order to encourage compliance, the federal government links the child support grant with the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) grant. These conditional grants create an incentive for Michigan to collect as much child support as possible, calling into question the level of scrutiny given to the propriety of child support obligations. When single mothers receive welfare, legal, even if not biological, fathers forfeit much of their child support payments to the state in order to reimburse it for its assistance. The net effect of this scheme is that the more child support the state can award, the more revenue it can reap. Given that there are of approximately 800,000 custodial divorced parents in Michigan who receive Title 4D benefits, the state has much to gain by finding men to pay.
    The citizens subject to this abuse must demand its end. Well-intended welfare reform is being used to against those it was supposed to help. Furthermore, the judicial system is fueling this abuse with unchecked awards of child support and an often inaccessible appeals process.

    E. The Actors

    The child support system is a self-perpetuating machine of corruption fueled by greed and power. The foot soldier of the system is the attorney. Although I would highly recommend obtaining the advice of counsel for anyone going through this process, one must keep in mind that the attorney depends on conflict and animus for his or her livelihood. Furthermore, an attorney will not likely raise more than a token challenge to a judge’s authority or reputation, realizing that his or her career may depend on a good working relationship with that judge. This consideration may conflict directly with the interests of the client, and by extension the interests of the child. Although grievance procedures are available, my experience has shown them to be completely ineffective.

    Another actor in the system is the Friend of the Court (FOC).

    The FOC is a statutorily enacted agency created to assist the court in family law cases by, among other things, investigating custody, parenting time, and child support collection, and making recommendations to the judge, to whom the FOC directly reports. Of these duties, the FOC tends to focus heavily on the child support collection, virtually never missing an opportunity to prosecute a “deadbeat.” By contrast, the FOC rarely intercedes upon learning of violations of parenting time. The reason is clear: enforcing child support generates revenue for the state, but enforcing parenting time does not.
    Moreover, the FOC does not place nearly as much emphasis on delivering the support as it does collecting it. Michigan has almost $20 million in support funds that it has not delivered to recipients due to an inability to contact them. If the child’s best interest were truly its chief concern, however, the FOC would redouble its efforts to locate the recipients. Moreover, it would enforce the custodial parents’ legal duty to keep such information on file. As the FOC’s superior, the Chief Judge has the power to make this happen, yet it has not been done.

    F. The Grievance Process

    Anyone wishing to file a grievance against the FOC must do so with the director of the FOC who has 30 days to respond. Having a grievance heard by the very office that is the subject of the grievance presents obvious conflicts of interest. Although the complainant can proceed beyond this level by appealing to the Chief Judge, this does little to assuage the conflict concerns since the FOC acts pursuant to the Chief Judge’s orders.
    The state has attempted to address some of these issues, though not with great success. Governor Granholm recommended that each county in Michigan implement a citizens advisory committee as an alternative forum for complaints, but not all counties have followed this recommendation. Furthermore, the FOCs are supposed to assign each grievance a case number in order to better track the complaint, but instead of performing this task diligently, many FOCs liberally dismiss complaints and take no further action. There is some oversight; for example, each year a senate committee reviews grievances filed against the FOC in order to assess the FOC office.
    For a while, some progress was made in holding the FOCs and judges accountable, including establishing independent oversight boards that were privy to closed FOC meetings. After controversial revelations, however, the oversight boards have been excluded from FOC meetings. Complainants may still file grievances against judges, but the state-employed attorneys require very high standards of proof to implicate a judge, and so these grievances rarely produce quantifiable results.

    II. My Story
    A. The Fraud

    As I relate my story, you will see the various components of the system that I have described in action. My story spans 20 years and has culminated in ludicrous results, forcing me to reimburse the state for welfare that the mother of another man’s child fraudulently received and compelling me to pay child support to the child’s biological and custodial father. This did not happen as the result of unrelated coincidental misfortunes, but rather from a systematic corruption that infects Michigan’s legal system. What is worse is that my story is not an isolated anomaly, but one of many such atrocities that ruin lives each day.

    When I was 19 years old I married my girlfriend. Two months later, I was a father, and a proud one at that. Soon thereafter, my wife gave birth to a second child—like the first, a boy. In our fifth year of marriage, however, we decided to split up. In almost no time at all, the mother reunited with an old flame. Initially, my wife filed for divorce. Later, I would file as well, but not until I had learned some shocking information about the children.
    In the early stages of the divorce proceedings, the mother and the boys moved in with her ex-boyfriend. This act raised my suspicions, and they were confirmed when my ex-wife’s eldest son informed me that the ex-boyfriend was his real father (his mother told him as much). Despite this information, the court refused my several requests for a DNA paternity test because the mother testified repeatedly under oath that I was the biological father.
    The court was less than sympathetic to my plight. My original counsel advised me that if I wanted to contest paternity, I needed to request a stay to seek new counsel. I immediately did so and obtained new counsel. The new attorney was unable to attend the judgment on such short notice, however, and I had to petition the court myself. Three times I asked for a stay to determine paternity and for representation, and three times I was denied. Over my objections, the judge entered the divorce judgment. The judge patronizingly added that his children were adopted yet he loved them as his own. What difference, he seemed to imply, does paternity make?
    After the initial proceedings had concluded, the court honored my request for a paternity test on the condition that its results be used only for medical purposes and not for legal purposes. The test was done and I awaited the results. In the meantime, my attorney appealed my case to the circuit court on the grounds that the judge had abused his discretion in denying my earlier requests in light of the disputed paternity.
    Also during this period, my ex-wife declared her intention to isolate me from the two children, although the ex-boyfriend and biological father of the oldest son still refused to officially acknowledge his paternity. In furtherance of that effort she offered me a settlement, via our attorneys, that would eliminate my required child support and health insurance payments in exchange for my forfeiture of all visitation rights for both children. The FOC had brokered this deal and my attorney advised me to accept it and petition later to reinstate my visitation rights.
    Against my better judgment and swayed by the specter of complete alienation from my son if I continued to fight, I accepted the deal. We went to court to finalize the settlement. The judge asked the mother if the settlement reflected the outcome she wanted, and she indicated that it did. But instead of asking me the same question, he accused me of wanting to sell my children, and began crossing terms off of the settlement. When he finished, he had eliminated my visitation rights and reinstated my child support and health insurance obligations for my ex-wife’s son. Somehow, I had gone from an unfavorable settlement to an unconscionable “agreement” that required me to pay a father to support his own son but prohibited me from ever seeing that child (or my own child).

    B. The Aftermath

    Over the years following the decision, I had to develop coping mechanisms to deal with the anguish of alienation from my son and the burden of paying child support for another’s child. I learned to live with the child support and health insurance payments by thinking of them as taxes that came out of each paycheck—as a forgone conclusion of money I would never see. But I could not come up with any clever device for coping with the separation from my son or his brother. I would often find myself wondering what they were up to, how they were doing in school, and what they looked like. I also wondered what they were being told about the source of the money their mother received each month.
    Eventually I remarried. At first, I was adamant that we would not have any children. My past experience had cut deeply and, although it seemed well outside the realm of possibilities in this relationship, I could not bear the thought of reliving the experience. As the passage of time assuaged my pain, however, I learned that this relationship was different. My lovely wife and I have now been together for 14 years and have a wonderful three-and-a-half year old son.
    Although the pain healed somewhat, my curiosity about how this could have happened remained strong. I had paid over $80,000 in child support, and my employer had been billed almost $70,000 for child health care premiums. I had to investigate.

    C. The Investigation

    I began to request records from the FOC office. Even as a person with no legal training, I knew something was terribly wrong. My instincts led me to involve the media, who seemed to share my skepticism. They were more successful at obtaining documentation that I could not access. Several outlets aired revealing exposés that all asked the same question: how did this happen?
    I began receiving a good deal of positive feedback from the public. My phone rang constantly and I received many letters expressing outrage and support, with some urging me to crusade for other victims of paternity fraud. Even a state senator, during a television interview, agreed that my case raised serious concerns and one must strain to fathom the judge’s reasoning.
    In the meantime, I filed a motion to erase all debts owed to the mother and the biological father. This time, the court ruled in my favor. Furthermore, I was granted visitation to see my biological son, whom I had not been allowed to contact in over 15 years.
    As my investigation moved forward, I began to learn just how out of the loop the FOC and the court had kept me. For example, I discovered that the mother, having abandoned both children to the eldest’s father’s care, had petitioned the court to redirect my child support payments to the father. Moreover, the court granted the request without any regard for the requirement that it notify all parties within 30 days to allow an opportunity for objections. Rather than notifying me within 30 days, the court allowed me to find out through my own personal investigation many years later.
    Based on this information and a FOC bureau memorandum I discovered, that directed FOC offices and Chief Judges to adhere to the 30-day notice requirement, I filed a grievance against the FOC. Shortly thereafter, the State Inspector General’s office contacted me concerning an investigation into the mother’s welfare fraud. Apparently, as I was paying for her child’s health care, she was also receiving duplicative health care payments from other providers. Furthermore, the FOC knew that the mother had received payments from providers but shirked their duty to inform me, which would have allowed me to stop my payments.
    The more I learned, the more I wanted to dig deeper. With this new welfare fraud information, I filed another grievance against the FOC. I wondered how the FOC could award the mother, and then the father of the eldest son, sole custody in light of these revelations. The FOC should have known these facts, and yet it still concluded that living with these two, completely cut off from me, was in the best interest of the children—even my biological child. This, however, paled in comparison to what I learned next.
    Recall that the mother and the FOC conspired to redirect my child support payments to the biological father without notifying me. This took place around 2001, soon after the court allowed the mother to abandon the children to the biological father, whose legal status was no more than “live-in boyfriend.” My research, however, uncovered the father’s felony complaint and arrest warrant from only four years prior. He had been convicted of a felony with a firearm and assault with a dangerous weapon.
    Ironically, the state’s main witnesses included my ex-wife, some of her girlfriends, and the father’s own son. The episode involved the father returning home intoxicated and abusive. He brandished a rifle and took his own family hostage, destroying property and breaking windows. The son testified that the father told them they would all die. The police surrounded the home, and the father surrendered after a lengthy standoff.
    Certainly, the court had access to these records, yet this felon is the man whose parental duties I had been subsidizing all those years. He is the man who the court deemed fit to raise my son and his. He is the man to whom the court awarded my son, entrusting him to keep my son and forbidding the boy from ever seeing me.
    The FOC proved as unhelpful in the grievance process as it was in the proceedings. My first complaint went unanswered well past the 30-day limit. So did my second complaint. I filed a third grievance with the Chief Judge who, along with the FOC bureau, assured me an answer was forthcoming. After the time limit for all three grievances had come and gone, I received notice that each was outside the scope of the grievance process.
    I appealed my denials to the Chief Judge, and once again received a negative response, this time with the word “DENIED” in all capitals. I also appealed to the FOC to try to stop my wage garnishment, which the state was using to reimburse the mother’s fraudulent health insurance payments. Although the state was aware of the fraud, they refused to stop my garnishment, meaning that I was forced to pay the state for money it had already been reimbursed. I have refused to pay, but to this day, the state continues to pursue my wages, placing a garnishment against my tax returns.

    III. What Can Be Done?

    A. The Problem

    I do not claim that the entire government and court system in the state of Michigan is infested with corruption. Small pockets of corruption exist, however, and can ruin lives when they fester in chokepoints that cut off all recourse for people like me.
    The Michigan court system does not operate autonomously, nor do the executive and legislative branches. Ultimately, the United States Constitution governs each to some degree. When the state denies its citizens of due process, the federal government must act to restore justice.

    B. The Solution

    The federal government must be compelled to launch a federal investigation. An impressive petition is one of the most effective means of bringing this issue to the government’s attention. I hope that those of you who have read this letter and been moved by the outrageous official acts I have described do not succumb to a feeling of hopelessness. Instead, I hope you are motivated to push back, realizing that your signature on a petition does count; in fact, it may be the only chance at righting these wrongs.

    I ask that you take the following steps:
    1. Go to my website FIXTHEFOC

    2. Sign the petition

    Please do not hesitate to contact me personally:
    Mr. Douglas Richardson

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