A Daily Mail news article publicized the case of a man jailed for two years after a fake paternity test was uncovered. On top of that, the man was found to be illegally practicing medicine in the United Kingdom without a license. Although not all paternity fraud stories involve a bogus doctor, similar reports have been published about a father’s attempts to falsify a DNA paternity test result by sending in someone else’s (or even a pet animal’s) DNA.
Prior to DNA testing, a child born to a married woman was considered to be the biological child of her husband, despite it being untrue in some instances. DNA testing has caused a huge shift in the history of paternity—from a legal and moral question that often couldn’t be answered—to a biomedical matter subject to highly-accurate proof.
What is Paternity-Test Fraud?
Paternity fraud happens when the mother of a child misidentifies a man as the biological father of her child. The mother may know without a doubt that the man isn’t biologically linked to her child or suspect he isn’t genetically linked. She may convince the man to sign an acknowledgment of paternity or birth certificate form stating his paternity.
The consequences of misattributed paternity can be devastating for men who’ve believed for years they’re biologically tied to a child, only to learn later through DNA testing this isn’t true. Furthermore, many states use the acknowledgment of paternity or birth certificate as “proof” of paternity for child support cases, rather than ordering an actual DNA test prior to assigning child support. So paternity fraud not only causes undue emotional pain for the father and child, but can also have serious financial repercussions.
How to Recognize Paternity-Test Fraud
DDC’s experienced laboratory staff can spot many red flags in submitted DNA samples that suggest DNA has been tampered with. Here are some clues paternity fraud has occurred:
- The mother submits her own DNA and passes it off as the possible father’s.The DNA profiles for two separate people can never be the same unless they’re identical twins, so our lab would immediately identify this as a false paternity test, suspend testing, and request new samples
- The mother asks for child support in cash payments only, leaving no paper trail
- The mother passively blocks access to the child or discourages the presumptive father from developing a relationship with them
Avoid Paternity Fraud with a Legal Paternity Test
One of the best ways to avoid paternity-test fraud is to take a legal DNA test, which uses the chain-of- custody process to properly identify the tested parties at the time of DNA collection. The sample collection is performed by a trained professional at an approved facility—such as a local hospital, medical office, or health department.The samples are then sealed and made tamper-proof before being sent to the laboratory for processing.
In order to prove paternity legally, the testing laboratory must be accredited by regulatory bodies that review them and adhere to strict guidelines.These factors solidify the chain of custody and make the test results court defensible. At DDC, our staff keeps careful records so if any questions arise regarding the validity of the DNA test, we can provide proof of the chain of custody.
What Happens When Paternity Fraud is Uncovered?
Unfortunately, paternity fraud isn’t currently deemed a punishable crime, so mothers who commit it actually face no legal consequences. Moreover, it’s extremely difficult to collect or recollect funds from the mother in question. Attempting to obtain reimbursement for past child support on one’s own is a huge longshot, therefore experts recommend seeking help from a qualified attorney.
Legal Paternity Test vs. At-Home Paternity Test
Courts in the United States do not accept results from a home paternity test because they lack verification that the DNA submitted belongs to the individuals whose names are listed on the test form. With that said, home tests are accurate for testing, assuming parties submitting and gathering the samples are honest and the laboratory employs a process, technology, analysis, and safeguards to ensure testing accuracy.
The Benefits of a Legal Paternity Test
- A legal paternity test is often required in cases involving child support and custody, immigration, inheritance disputes, and other legal matters.
- Undergoing a paternity test with chain of custody enables using the results for legal purposes in the future, should the need arise.
If you consider paternity testing is a potentially life-changing service, it makes sense to select an accredited lab with a great track record. When reputation for excellence and accuracy in results are more important than a rock-bottom price, DDC is the perfect choice.
Do you have questions about paternity fraud? Share in the comments and we’ll answer.