Who’s Not the Daddy? – Paternity Fraud Explained
When a mother names a man to be the biological father of her child when he is not, this is called paternity fraud. You may also come across terms that mean the same thing, such as child identity fraud, paternal discrepancy or misattributed paternity. In such cases, the mother may not want to reveal the name of the true biological father for fear of unveiling her infidelity, or she may be claiming child support. In order to commit this type of fraud, the mother need not be sure of the father’s true identity; she need only suspect.
Celebrity Paternity Fraud Cases
Male celebrities are often on the receiving end of fraudulent complaints for paternity. It seems everybody is fair game.
At the age of 17, Justin Bieber was taken to court by a 20 year-old woman who claimed he was the father of her three month-old baby. Bieber responded by taking a DNA test, which he threatened to use in a countersuit. Despite emphatically continuing to assert that Bieber was the biological father of her child, the mother withdrew her complaint. Ironically, had Bieber been the true father, the plaintiff would find herself being accused of a crime. Conception would have had to occur when the boy was only 16 years of age, two years below the legal age of consent in the state of California.
Anna Nicole Smith
It is not always the mother of a child who initiates a lawsuit in a case of paternity fraud, nor is the alleged father always trying to deny his paternity. In some cases, it is the other way around.
The death of Anna Nicole Smith in 2006 triggered a flurry of assertions by men that they were the biological father of the deceased’s infant daughter, who stood to inherit her mother’s estate, said to be worth $50,000,000. Photographer Larry Birkhead was identified as the biological father of the child, and not the man named on the birth certificate, Howard K. Stern.
County of Los Angeles v. Navarro
The defendant, Manuel Navarro, claimed that he had not received notification of the summons to appear in court in July 1996. In his absence, the county took his default and ordered him to pay child support. Five years later, he appealed to set aside the judgement because genetic testing proved that he was not the father. The court initially denied the appeal, but ultimately decided to reverse the default judgment in June 2004.