By Amy Johnson, Esq.
Even if you're properly notified that you are the father of a child (not through Facebook http://www.colo-lawyers.com/Feldmann-Nagel-Blog/2014/November/Colorado-Notice-Via-Facebook-.aspx , but in person or through a newspaper), you may be at risk of paternity fraud. Paternity fraud occurs where a woman allows a man to believe he is the father of her child when he is not, in fact, the father. Even if the mother is actually unaware of which man fathered the child, the man identified by the Court as the father may have financial obligations to the child based on his alleged parentage. A recent article by Indigene, a DNA testing company, notes that of the thousands of paternity tests it processes each month, approximately one-third of the tests return results excluding the alleged father from being the child's biological father. [i] Without this DNA testing, these alleged fathers would be responsible for paying child support, and if they refused to comply with payment, they would risk losing their driver's licenses, paying the child support through wage garnishment, and facing jail time for contempt of court.
If you were married to the child's mother at the time of the child's birth or within the 300 days prior to the child's birth, you are presumed by law to the child's father. [ii] If you were not married to the child's mother, but signed an affidavit stating that you are the father, the Court accepts you as the father. If you fall into one of these categories, or you were told by the mother that you are the father, you are the child's legal father. But if you believe you may not be the child's biological father, you have a right to a paternity test. Although you must pay for the test, which can range in cost from $90 to $225, the price of long-term child support is exponentially more expensive, and a DNA paternity test will provide almost 100% accurate results. Putative fathers can use DNA testing to counter the mother's paternity claims until the child is five years old. Courts generally accept the results of such DNA tests to establish paternity and the resulting obligations for the parties related to the child.
If you need legal representation in a possible paternity fraud case, or in any other domestic matter, please contact the Domestic Team at Feldmann Nagel, LLC.