Paternity fraud
Paternity fraud refers to a paternal discrepancy or a non-paternity event
Non-paternity event
Non-paternity event is a term in genetic genealogy and clinical genetics to describe the case where the biological father of a child is someone other than who it is presumed to be. The presumption may be either on the part of the presumed father or by the physician...

, in which a mother
A mother, mum, mom, momma, or mama is a woman who has raised a child, given birth to a child, and/or supplied the ovum that grew into a child. Because of the complexity and differences of a mother's social, cultural, and religious definitions and roles, it is challenging to specify a universally...

 names a man to be the biological father of a child, particularly for self-interest, when she knows or suspects that he is not the biological father. The term entered into common use in the late 1990s. It has been given significant coverage by U.S. activists and authors Tom Leykis
Tom Leykis
Thomas Joseph Leykis is an American radio personality. He currently hosts The Tasting Room with Tom Leykis, a weekly lifestyle program dealing with fine food and drink, airing weekends mainly in West Coast markets...

, Glenn Sacks
Glenn Sacks
Glenn Sacks is an American men's and fathers' issues columnist and media spokesperson. He is the first columnist specializing in men's and fathers' issues to be published regularly in Top 100 American newspapers...

, and Wendy McElroy
Wendy McElroy
Wendy McElroy is a Canadian individualist anarchist and individualist feminist. She was a co-founder along with Carl Watner and George H. Smith of The Voluntaryist in 1982.-Sex-positive:...


Fathers' rights activists state that in cases of paternity fraud, there are many potential victims: the non-biological father, the child deprived of a relationship with the biological father, and the biological father who is deprived of his relationship with his child. Subsidiary victims include the child's and the non-biological father's families. In particular, financial hardship may have resulted for the non-biological father's other children and spouse in cases in which the man was forced to make child support payments for another man's child.

In many jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

s, there is limited opportunity to legally challenge the assumption of paternity
Paternity (law)
In law, paternity is the legal acknowledgment of the parental relationship between a man and a child usually based on several factors.At common law, a child born to the wife during a marriage is the husband's child under the "presumption of legitimacy", and the husband is assigned complete rights,...

. For example, by forbidding men to challenge paternity, especially in the context of marriage, by limiting the amount of time allowed to challenge paternity, or by allowing women to make a claim of paternity without adequate chance for rebuttal by the alleged father. In some jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

s, the husband of the mother of a child is held to be the father, regardless of biological relationship.


The ready availability of genetic fingerprinting
Genetic fingerprinting
DNA profiling is a technique employed by forensic scientists to assist in the identification of individuals by their respective DNA profiles. DNA profiles are encrypted sets of numbers that reflect a person's DNA makeup, which can also be used as the person's identifier...

 allows men suspicious of the parentage of a child to request a paternity test to make positive identification of the father. In many countries, such tests require the consent of the mother or an order made by a family court
Family court
A family court is a court convened to decide matters and make orders in relation to family law, such as custody of children. In common-law jurisdictions "family courts" are statutory creations primarily dealing with equitable matters devolved from a court of inherent jurisdiction, such as a...

 though this is not universally true.


A 2005 scientific review of international published studies of paternal discrepancy found a range in incidence from 0.8% to 30% (median 3.7%), suggesting that the widely quoted and
unsubstantiated figure of 10% of non-paternal events is an overestimate. However, in situations where disputed parentage was the reason for the paternity testing, there were higher levels; an incidence of 17% to 33% (median of 26.9%). Most at risk were those born to younger parents, to unmarried couples and those of lower socio-economic status, or from certain cultural groups.

Penalties and prosecutions

Victims are rarely able to claim compensation in the civil court system, and even in countries where paternity fraud is a criminal offense, action is rarely taken against offenders. In 2008 it emerged that even though the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 government had exposed 4,854 cases of false paternity claims there had not been a single prosecution for the crime.

Liam Magill

  • Liam Magill was initially awarded compensation for damages, not to be confused with the costs of raising the children, against his ex-wife for pain and suffering as a result of the paternity fraud, but lost upon his ex-wife's appeal to the High Court. The sole issue of this case was civil damages for deceit (not reimbursement of child rearing costs or child financial support paid).

Jim Knapp AKA Jim "Jones"

  • Jim Knapp AKA Jim "Jones", was found to not have fathered a child for whom he was paying child support after a twelve-year battle in the California court system.

Richard Parker

  • Sixteen months after his divorce, Richard Parker, a Florida resident, discovered via DNA testing that the child he was paying support for was not his. Florida justices ruled 7-0 against him, stating that Parker must continue to pay $1,200 a month in child support, because he had missed the one-year post divorce deadline for filing his lawsuit. His court-ordered payments total $216,000 over the next fifteen years.

Steve Barreras

  • In New Mexico, Steve Barreras was forced to pay a total of $20,000 for a daughter that never existed. In August 1999, Steve Barreras and Viola Trevino divorced, with Viola later claiming to be pregnant with Steve's child. This was in spite of the fact that Barreras had had a vasectomy
    Vasectomy is a surgical procedure for male sterilization and/or permanent birth control. During the procedure, the vasa deferentia of a man are severed, and then tied/sealed in a manner such to prevent sperm from entering into the seminal stream...

     in 1998 and claimed that Trevino had had tubal ligation
    Tubal ligation
    Tubal ligation or tubectomy is a surgical procedure for sterilization in which a woman's fallopian tubes are clamped and blocked, or severed and sealed, either method of which prevents eggs from reaching the uterus for fertilization...

     in 1978. Trevino fabricated a daughter named "Stephanie Renee", who Trevino claimed was born on September 3, 1999, and obtained a baptismal certificate, birth certificate, Medicare
    Medicare (United States)
    Medicare is a social insurance program administered by the United States government, providing health insurance coverage to people who are aged 65 and over; to those who are under 65 and are permanently physically disabled or who have a congenital physical disability; or to those who meet other...

     card and Social Security
    Social Security (United States)
    In the United States, Social Security refers to the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program.The original Social Security Act and the current version of the Act, as amended encompass several social welfare and social insurance programs...

     card for the fictitious girl. In 2002, Trevino was able to persuade a court to order Steve to pay child support for the fabricated daughter by falsifying DNA evidence.

  • When the judge demanded to see Trevino's daughter in December 2004, Trevino went to a local mall, where she persuaded a grandmother and her two-year-old granddaughter that they were "going to go see Santa Claus" but instead went to the courthouse with the child and attempted to pass her off before the judge as her own. Mr. Barreras successfully sued blood laboratory Mobile Blood Services for their role in the DNA hoax. The DNA had come from adult daughter Eve Barreras with help of lab employee.

  • Viola Trevino was sentenced to sixteen months in a federal prison in Arizona for claiming the non-existent girl on tax returns. Trevino owes the IRS over $2,200 for the fraud and Barreras $26,000 in child support and lawyer's fees. In November 2007, Trevino was supposed to answer state charges including kidnapping, fraud, and perjury, but disappeared. A warrant was issued for Trevino, who could face another forty-five years in prison. She was arrested days later.

  • In August 2008, Trevino plead guilty to thirteen of the twenty-four counts against her. The deal means she could spend twenty-one years in prison. She was sentenced by State District Judge Albert "Pat" Murdoch to twenty-one years in November 2008 on charges of fraud and perjury, with fifteen years suspended, leaving her to serve six years. In January 2009, Trevino's sentence was reduced to four years (time served plus one year), but would serve the suspended fifteen years if she violated probation.

Other cases

  • A South Korean man won compensation for pain and suffering damages of $42,380 when his wife had another man's baby and claimed it was his. Reported June, 2004 in Associated Press, USA.

  • In the UK on April 2007 a stockbroker was awarded £22,400 in damages. The judge, Sir John Blofeld, said he had been unable to accept the evidence of the woman, known only as Ms. B, and said she had made repeated "fraudulent representations" to Mr. A over the child's paternity.

See also

  • Birth control sabotage
    Birth control sabotage
    Birth control sabotage, or reproductive coercion, refers to efforts to manipulate another person's use of birth control or to undermine efforts to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Examples include replacing birth control pills with fakes, puncturing condoms and diaphragms, or threats and violence to...

  • Extrinsic fraud
    Extrinsic fraud
    Extrinsic fraud is fraud that "induces one not to present a case in court or deprives one of the opportunity to be heard [or] is not involved in the actual issues ...." It can involve fraud on the court, but is not necessarily the same....

  • Men's rights
    Men's rights
    Men's rights is an umbrella term, encompassing the political rights, entitlements, and freedoms given or denied to males within a nation or culture....

  • Men's movement
    Men's movement
    The men's movement is a social movement that includes a number of philosophies and organizations that seek to support men, change the male gender role and improve men's rights in regard to marriage, child access and victims of domestic violence...

  • Reproductive rights
    Reproductive rights
    Reproductive rights are legal rights and freedoms relating to reproduction and reproductive health. The World Health Organization defines reproductive rights as follows:...

  • Virginity fraud
    Virginity fraud
    Virginity fraud is held to occur when someone lies about their virginity in order to obtain something of value...

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