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Fathers who question paternity need early legal counsel

Could you be the victim of paternity fraud?

Studies have found that as many as 30 percent of fathers paying child support aren't biologically related to the children they support. Yet, antiquated laws can confound men who are victimized by paternity fraud -- requiring them to continue paying support even when they can come to the courtroom armed with a DNA test in hand that proves they aren't a child's father.

Michigan, like most other states, has a vested interest in establishing legal paternity as often and as quickly as possible -- so that the child avoids becoming a recipient of state welfare benefits. That means that the laws are slanted in such a way that a man who doesn't question his paternity of a child born inside his marriage early on may not be able to do so later.

The law is similarly slanted against biological fathers in that situation. The biological father would be equally victimized in another way -- although he wouldn't be paying support, he would lack legal standing as the child's father for the purposes of custody and visitation because the mother's husband would have that right.

The fathers of children born to unwed mothers also face difficulties of their own if the mother is unwilling to name them. Unwed fathers don't have any legal rights to their children unless they take the often expensive and time-consuming steps of formally claiming them -- which they can only do if they know that the mother is having their child.

At the same time, no unwed father should rush into accepting paternity and the obligation of support for a child without proof that the child is actually his -- once the Acknowledgement of Paternity is signed, he's the child's legal father no matter what any future genetic tests may say.

If your facing the challenge of a child that you aren't sure is yours, consider contacting an attorney with experience in father's rights and paternity fraud for advice on how to handle the situation. It's important to understand all of your options -- and the liabilities you may face -- before you act.

For more information on how we approach cases involving the rights of fathers, please visit our page.

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