Learning that the child you’ve loved and supported as your own is not biologically yours is a painful and heartbreaking betrayal. As you come to terms with this new reality, you might wonder what the future holds for you, the child and their mother. Did the mother commit a crime, and can you hold her accountable?
Paternity fraud occurs when a mother knowingly names a man as the biological father of her child despite knowing he is not. However, naming the wrong man as the father by mistake due to a lack of awareness is not paternity fraud. The reasons a woman commits paternity fraud vary, but it is usually to obtain financial support or to maintain the relationship.
Given the rising number of cases across the country, certain jurisdictions, such as Tennessee, are making efforts to combat paternity fraud.
Parentage fraud in Tennessee
Tennessee’s new House Bill recognizes parentage fraud as a misdemeanor. Parentage fraud involves intentionally misidentifying someone as the biological parent of a child to either deprive them of property or prevent the rightful biological parent from exercising their parental rights.
Taking legal action against the mother
While it’s upsetting to fall victim to such deception, many states, including Mississippi, have yet to classify paternity fraud as a crime. You would have to sue the mother in civil court for damages, such as emotional distress.
But paternity fraud lawsuits are tricky. You may end up having to continue paying child support, nevertheless. Children caught in between these types of cases may suffer from confusion and identity crises. As courts prioritize the best interest of the child, they may continue to enforce child support payments on you.
Being in this situation is difficult and disorienting. If you’re feeling unsure about your next steps, seeking advice from an attorney could provide some much-needed clarity. Whether you’re considering maintaining your relationship with the child or initiating legal action against the mother, discussing your options with someone who understands could be beneficial.