What is Paternity Fraud and Should I be Concerned?

Paternity fraud occurs when a man is incorrectly identified as the biological father of a child by the mother. In this blog, we discuss the cause of action for paternity fraud in Illinois.

Paternity fraud occurs when a woman intentionally names a man to be the father of her child when she knows he is not the biological father, often for the purposes of collecting child support or the mother does not want the alleged father to know about another man. While this is a problem that has always existed, it is becoming more and more of an issue in today’s world. Determining the true parentage of a child is essential because it may have a significant impact on legal rights and responsibilities as well as financial issues.

How Does Paternity Fraud Happen?

Paternity fraud has many victims, including the non-biological father, the biological father, the families of both men, and most certainly the innocent child.

Instances include when a married couple has a baby, the husband is the presumed father. If the husband signs the birth certificate at the hospital, he then establishes his paternity to that child – regardless of whether he is actually the biological father or not. If an unmarried mother has a baby, she could ask a man to sign the birth certificate or affidavit of paternity even if the man is not the biological father of the child. In another situation, an unmarried mother might have to apply for state aid, which often requires her to list the child’s father. The mother could potentially name anyone as the child’s father because she doesn’t have to provide proof that the listed father is the biological father.

Why is establishing paternity important?

Establishing paternity gives a child rights to:

Financial Security

  • Social Security benefits from a deceased or disabled parent
  • Inheritance
  • Veteran’s benefits (when applicable)
  • Health and life insurance benefits

Medical History – May provide an opportunity for a child to obtain medical information.

How Do You Disprove Paternity in Illinois?

As defined by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, paternity is a legal relationship between a father and a child. If you suspect your wife has committed paternity fraud, there are a few actions you may take.

The Circuit Court of Cook County provides information on the Illinois Parentage Act of 2015, which covers the establishment of parentage in the state, recognizes the right of every child to the physical, mental, emotional and financial support of his or her parents. According to the law, if you were married to the child’s mother within 300 days of the child’s birth, the law presumes you to be the father. If you are not in fact the child’s biological father but your wife does not suggest that there is another potential father, she may be deliberately committing paternity fraud.

In parentage cases, also called “paternity cases,” the court makes orders that say who the child’s legal parents are. If parents are married when a child is born, there is usually no question about parentage. The law assumes that the husband is the father and the wife is the mother, so paternity is automatically established in most cases. But for unmarried parents, parentage of their children needs to be established legally.  If there is not an agreement on paternity of a child, the Court can order a DNA test to determine the father.  After paternity is established, allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time and child support can then be set forth via a Final Allocation of Parental Responsibilities Judgment.

Discuss Your Case with Our Paternity Attorneys

You may file a legal form to declare the non-existence of a parent-child relationship between yourself and the child. According to the law, you must initiate this action within two years of learning the relevant facts relating to paternity.

Unfortunately, there are currently no consequences for mothers who commit paternity fraud. Paternity fraud is not considered a punishable crime, and it’s extremely difficult to collect or recollect funds from the mother in question.

If you have questions or concerns about disestablishing paternity, Masters Law Group can help. Contact us here today to set up a complimentary consultation.