Paternity fraud occurs when a mother or alleged father acts in a deceitful manner to either establish paternity or to show that paternity does not exist. For example, the mother may place an alleged father's name on a birth certificate who is not the biological father. The mother or alleged father may also tamper with the paternity test results.
Extrinsic fraud is defined as deceitful conduct that may form a basis for setting aside a judgment. Extrinsic fraud deprives the defrauded party of the opportunity to present his claim or defense of a claim to the court. A mother may engage in extrinsic fraud in order to procure child support from the putative father or a putative father may engage in extrinsic fraud in order to insulate himself from paying child support.
A decision of paternity will not prevent the aggrieved party from claiming that paternity fraud occurred where extrinsic fraud existed in the original proceeding. Where a claim is fraudulently advanced the aggrieved party may be entitled to equitable relief or monetary relief. For example, if the alleged father had been ordered to pay child support for a child whom he actually did not father, the court may amend its order relieving the father from the child support obligation. Additionally, in some instances, the mother may be required to repay the alleged father for his court costs and any child support that he wrongfully paid to the mother based upon the belief that he fathered a child.
A Father's Claim of Paternity Fraud
If the father claims that he is the victim of paternity fraud he must establish that the basic elements of fraud existed. The elements of extrinsic fraud include:
- An intentional false representation of a past or present fact.
- The representation may be in written or oral form or may be in the form of an action.
- The father acted in reliance on the false representation.
- The father suffered damage as a result of his reliance upon the false representation.
Although either a mother or a father may claim that paternity fraud occurred, it is much more likely that such a claim would be made by a father. Additionally, if a mother or father tampered with test results or evidence, either may also be criminally charged as well.
Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.