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What is paternity fraud?

As a Texas father, no one need tell you that while your child's biological mother was easily determined when she gave birth to him or her, establishing his or her biological father is not nearly so simple. Although it is true that the State of Texas presumes you to be your child's biological and therefore legal father if you and the mother were married to each other at the time of birth, such is not the case if the two of you were not married when your child was born.

Outright paternity fraud occurs if and when your child's mother deliberately misattributes his or her paternity to someone else rather than to you, knowing that you are the child's biological father. It also occurs if and when a woman deliberately misattributes her child's paternity to you, knowing that you are not the biological father. Unfortunately, however, no Texas law, or the law of any other state, considers either woman's fraud to be a punishable crime. Therefore, no woman faces any legal consequences for mistakenly or deliberately saying that a particular man fathered her child when he, in fact, did not.

Custody and child support considerations

If you become a victim of paternity fraud, it can negatively affect you in two separate ways. With regard to your own children, you cannot seek custody of or visitation with them unless and until you prove your paternity. With regard to a child whose mother insists that you are the father when you are not, a court could require you to pay child support unless and until you prove that you are not the biological father.

Either situation undoubtedly will require you to go to court and to take a DNA test. Only the test results can prove or disprove your paternity. Bear in mind, however, that while a negative DNA test result conclusively proves that you are not the child's father, a positive test result does not conclusively prove that you fathered the child. Rather, depending on the closeness of the match between your DNA and that of the child, your positive test result proves only the degree of likelihood that you fathered him or her. Obviously, the higher the percentage of the match, the higher the percentage likelihood that the child is your biological son or daughter.

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