One of the criticisms most frequently leveled at family court systems in the United States is that they treat fathers as walking checkbooks, imposing heavy child support obligations on them and invading their privacy to ensure that they pay those obligations, meanwhile doing little to support their efforts to have a meaningful relationship with their children. In recent years, the family court system has changed some of its practices to give more importance to the rights of fathers to be involved in the lives of the children they support. Consider that parenting plans now give parents a wide variety of options as to how to divide time with the children and decision-making authority among parents.
The Parker v. Parker case represents a worst-case scenario for fathers. If all you knew about the case were news headlines, you would recognize it as the case where a man disproved his paternity, but the court ordered him to keep making child support payments for his ex-wife’s son. In fact, the court made this decision based on the fact that Richard Parker waited a long time (more than a year after the divorce was filed) to challenge his paternity and that his main motivation seemed to be a desire to get out of paying child support. The court ruled that it was in the child’s best interest not to take away the only father he had ever known.
How to Avoid Paternity Fraud
The best way to deal with paternity fraud is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Few things are more disruptive to a family than finding out that a child’s biological father is someone other than the legal father who shares a strong emotional bond with the child. With the widespread availability of DNA testing, it is easier than ever to prevent situations where parents question a child’s paternity only after the child is old enough to be affected by the situation emotionally.
One possible solution is to perform DNA tests on all children at birth, and to compare their DNA with that of the men presumed to be their fathers. DNA paternity testing costs about $30. It is no more expensive or invasive than the other routine tests performed on newborns. DNA paternity testing is possible even before the child is born. Currently, fetal DNA tests are used to diagnose chromosomal abnormalities before birth. These tests, including amniocentesis, chorionic villus sampling (CVS), and non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT), pose little risk to the fetus. NIPT can be done as early as the third month of pregnancy. Comparing the DNA of the fetus to that of the father could make these prenatal tests double as paternity tests.
Early DNA Testing Helps Families Make Informed Decisions
Performing paternity tests at the time of the child’s birth, or even before, will not take away the pain of finding out that your wife has been unfaithful. It will, however, give men the chance to decide whether they want to be the child’s legal father even if they are not the biological father.
Alan R. Burton is Here to Help Fathers
Alan R. Burton is committed to being fair to parents and to protecting the best interests of children. Contact Alan R. Burton in Boca Raton, Florida, if you think you are being unfairly required to pay child support.