You would think a case of mistaken paternity would be easy enough to clear up — especially now that genetic testing is relatively inexpensive and simple to obtain.
Unfortunately for men who are misidentified as fathers, it isn’t always that simple — some of the laws regarding paternity are antiquated when compared to the ability we now have to conclusively establish whether or not someone really is a certain child’s father. Additionally, flaws in the system can be hard to combat — especially if you’re a lone voice proclaiming that you’re innocent over a chorus of voices insisting that you aren’t.
Take the case of one Michigan man who became the legal father of a child based on the word of a woman who filed for public assistance. In order to receive aid, she was required to name the father of her child so that he could be sued for support. For whatever reason, she named a man who was most definitely not the child’s father.
The “default dad” might have had a chance to defend himself — had he been properly notified of the lawsuit against him. A process server swore under oath that the man had been properly served — which was a physical impossibility. The man, long since deemed a father by the court since he’d never shown up to protest the claim, had absolute proof he wasn’t living at the address the process server listed. In fact, he’d been in jail.
Despite genetic testing and proof he’d never received notice of the claim against him, this victim of paternity fraud suffered nearly two decades of wage garnishments, tax returns gobbled up by the state, suspended licenses, branding as a “deadbeat dad,” warrants for his arrest and incarceration. When his case eventually gained enough notoriety that the state’s attorney general stepped in to dismiss the case, the more than $30,000 in past-due support was still not waived.
It wasn’t until October, 2015, that the state finally dismissed the arrears — without apology.
These kinds of cases happen far too often — and anyone trying to manage the fight on his own is likely to fail. Don’t try to find your way through the paternity maze alone. Get professional representation with experience specifically in that field to help. For more information on how our firm approaches the issue of paternity rights, please visit our page.