man with children

Family law case outcomes provide insight into paternity fraud

Paternity fraud occurs when a woman deceives her male companion into believing he is the father of her child or children. This is a civil case, not a criminal one, because it entails a tort, which is an offence against an individual rather than against society.

According to family solicitors this is one of the most difficult cases they’ve encountered, as the removal of the father harms both the spouse and the children. This can be distressing for a man in a happy marriage, and if the marriage fails, he may question whether it’s worthwhile to continue paying for children who aren’t biologically his, even if they are close to him.

In a divorce proceeding in the United Kingdom, the most weight is given to the welfare of the children. When determining who should have custody and pay child support, numerous factors must be taken into account. If a father cares for his infant more than the child’s biological mother, should he be granted parental rights? Is it possible for a father to recover money spent on nonexistent children? Should a child be informed that the father they have known their entire existence is not their biological father? What are your thoughts on in vitro fertilisation, egg donation programmes, and surrogacy? These supplementary inquiries demonstrate that things are not always as they appear.

These recent court decisions may serve as a template for future decisions.

Can a father receive financial recompense as a result of a Paternity Fraud decision?

A person is entitled to monetary compensation if a magistrate determines that he or she was knowingly lied to. Indemnification for mental distress and financial loss, as well as the time required to get back on track after the deception. Remember that being discarded does not automatically entitle you to alimony, and the court will almost always rule in favour of the child’s best interests.

Frequently cited cases include A v. B (2007) and Rodwell v. Rodwell (2011).

In the 2007 case A v. B, A and B were a couple from 1996 to 2002. During the divorce, there were disagreements over who the child’s father was, but B eventually acknowledged that the child was not A’s. Due to B’s dishonesty, A submitted a lawsuit to recover his money. Prior case law (P vs. B, 2001) held that a defendant’s lack of financial resources did not affect whether or not the claim could be pursued. This was considered to be unfair to the mother and infant. In the 2007 case A v. B, the court stated that the parties’ refusal to communicate did not affect their entitlement to compensation.

Mr. Rodwell paid complete child support for four years prior to the 2011 case Rodwell v. Rodwell. Concerned, he requested a paternity test, which revealed that he was not the biological father of any of his children. The court ruled that he was entitled to general damages because his mental anguish was analogous to the loss of a family member.

Child Support Enforcement will not refund child support already paid. If a person is caring for a child as a parent, regardless of their legal or biological relationship to the child, they have a moral obligation to care for the child. Child support arrears may be managed in court as a tort action, or the other parent may be ordered to pay through CMS. Only payments made after the date on which they declared they were not a parent are eligible for a refund. In the 2007 case A vs. B, the father was ordered to pay fifty percent of the costs for family outings and other special expenses such as holidays, gifts, and family picnics.

In Rodwell v. Rodwell (2011), Mr. Rodwell was awarded £ 25,000 in damages for misrepresenting to people for 16 years. Most bereavement damages are approximately £10,000, but courts rarely award this amount when no one has perished.

The mother or the “other man” (the father to whom she granted parental rights) may be held culpable for any damages resulting from the child’s condition. Even though he has never met the child, he may one day be required to repay the money or provide care for the child.

In the case of a “social father” who has regarded the children as his own for an extended period of time and wishes to continue doing so, it is more difficult to demonstrate that abruptly severing contact with the children will cause them harm. In actuality, he reaps the benefits of paternity himself. It is therefore confounding that a man who pays but does nothing else to maintain contact earns more from financial support based on a fictitious genetic link than a man who simply pays. However, dishonesty has the same repercussions.

Can paternity fraud litigation be used to amend a divorce decree?

In the United Kingdom, a couple’s negligence has no bearing on the amount of alimony or child support they are required to pay. The courts attempt to ensure that the parents’ circumstances and the reason for the divorce play no significant role in determining child support. Only in a court of law may reparations for an offence be discussed.

H and W are the husband and wife in the 2019 case FRB v. DCA. EWHC 2816 (Fam) wed in 2003 and divorced in 2017, but their child C was born during their marriage. After a DNA test revealed that C was not his offspring, H sued for fraud. He claimed he had been victimised because the amount he had spent on her since she learned she was pregnant with child C exceeded the amount he would have been required to pay in financial redress procedures.

C viewed H as his father figure, so his request for funds to pay for his upbringing and education was denied.

Justice Cohen denied H.’s request for money because the quantity he requested was based on speculation. The Matrimonial Causes Act is the only statute that can be used to determine how a couple’s assets should be divided, as the court already has authority over “conduct” when determining the financial consequences of a divorce. Having both proceedings concurrently is a violation of procedure.

In addition, as stated in B v. IVF Hammersmith Ltd. [2019] 2 WLR 109, the court cannot determine the economic or opportunity cost of genetic paternity to the spouse. The court is not responsible for determining whether the costs of parenthood outweigh the benefits of having a child. It is erroneous to view a child as a financial burden.

It is unlawful to request child support from a man who is not the child’s biological father. Nonetheless, as part of a divorce settlement, the spouse must provide financial support to any “child of the family” with whom he wishes to maintain contact. Having a father figure, whether biological or not, is considered essential for a child’s development and contentment.

Should the infant learn that their biological father is not their father?

The truth about one’s father is among the greatest falsehoods one can tell their loved ones. It is difficult to determine whether this type of knowledge will be beneficial or harmful to a child, and the final decision rests with the parents. But if the father did not deny paternity, he would be required to pay child support indefinitely, be unable to sue the mother for lying, and lose custody of the children, even if he could provide a better life for them than their mother.

In AB v. CD & C [2019] EWHC 1695 (Fam), the court considered whether a mother should tell her child who their biological father is and when the child should discover that the man they recognised as their father was not their genetic father.

The child (C) mistook the new spouse of his mother (CD) for his biological father (AB). It is regrettable that he has a father other than his mother (X). AB, on the other hand, was unaware of X’s identity. AB’s heart was devastated by the news that C was not his child, but he still desired to play a significant role in C’s life. The mother felt remorse for her actions, but it was discovered that C was not AB’s child.

AB sued CD for breaching a confidentiality agreement. She desired compensation for her mental distress and for the mother to reveal X’s identity to C and the court. CD stated that she was not obligated to reveal C X’s father’s identity, but that he should find out as soon as possible, perhaps in two years when he will understand what it means to have two fathers.

The court-appointed guardian for C stated that it would be preferable for C to learn the truth promptly rather than through less acceptable means in the future.

The judge concurred that children’s lives could be saved if they were informed of the danger as soon as possible. It was determined that discussing X’s paternity before it was clear that he was C’s father would be unethical. The status of C could be kept a secret until then so that the infant is not subjected to additional stress.

According to Section 56 of the Family Law Act of 1986, a child older than 18 may request information about their biological parents.

Is it possible to conduct a DNA test without your mother’s consent?

Under the Human Tissue Act of 2006, it is unlawful to take or test someone’s DNA without their consent. If the individual is an adult, permission must be obtained. If the individual is a minor, you must obtain permission from their legal guardian. There is no requirement for the mother to participate in the screening procedure.

As the legal guardian of the infant, the biological father does not require permission from the mother to conduct a DNA test.

A consent form must be signed by the mother or legal guardian for anyone who is not a blood relative.

A father may contest a paternity DNA test. Yes. Without their consent, it is unlawful to use their samples in a paternity test. The only way to compel them to provide DNA samples if they refuse is to obtain a court order.

Is a parent’s physical relationship with a child the most important factor in determining custody?

In A v. B and C [2018] EWHC 3834 (Fam), Keehan J. had to make a decision regarding a 16-year-old girl (C) whose parents were Nigerian citizens. C and her mother have never spoken about C’s father. They have been residing with C’s aunt in the United Kingdom since 2002. C and her father began communicating in 2012, after C’s father was discovered. Then, in 2016, her mother unexpectedly passed away from a disease.

Therefore, her aunt obtained a court order permitting her to reside with her. The judge issued an injunction, which was signed by her father and aunt. The child’s biological father argued that he should have primary guardianship because he was the child’s biological parent.

McFarlane L.J. stated unequivocally in Re H (A Child) [2015] EWCA Civ 1284, paragraphs [89-94], and Re W (A Child) [2016] EWCA Civ 793, paragraph [71], that there is no presumption in favour of a natural parent or a natural family member. The court determined that it was in the child’s best interests to spend three hours per week with her mother’s aunt, in addition to spending time with her father, so that she could get to know both of her parents.

In lieu of the desires of the biological parent, the welfare and best interests of the child or children take precedence.

One final point

Unfortunately, there is little assistance for men who have been victimised by fraud, and those who seek restitution for the suffering caused by persistent falsehoods and excessive financial obligations are frequently punished by society. When paternity deception is uncovered and the wife who perpetrated it is punished, it may appear as though the father does not want his children. Despite his desire to remain a parent, resentment towards him is developing.

Richard Mason was awarded $250,000 in damages in a recent case. When he was born, he was told he would never be able to have children, and then he was diagnosed with cystic illness. Therefore, none of his three offspring share the same father. Two of his children have stopped speaking to him because they believe he is dishonest and only seeks attention, despite the fact that the split agreement provided them with a substantial sum of money.

A father with limited resources and a lack of newspaper interest has fewer legal options and rights. In terms of “distress” and psychological trauma, not being a real father can lead to lost opportunities.

P v. B: Paternity Lie Damages [2001] In 1 FLR 1041, Judge Stanley Burnton ruled that the father of a child could suit the child’s mother for £90,000 in damages for ‘indignity, mental suffering/distress, and humiliation’ resulting from a false paternity accusation.

In A v. B (Damages: Paternity) [2007], a stockbroker sought £100,000 in damages, including damages for emotional anguish, loss of consortium, and the cost of education. 2 FLR 1051. The judge, Sir John Blofeld, awarded him £22,400 for emotional distress, but he refused to pay for his child’s care. “Mr. A fell in love with his son,” explained Mr. Blofeld. He was the individual he cherished; he desired and revered him.

For their actions, fathers who sue for damages and compensation are frequently derided and reprimanded in public. Prior to the DNA test, the children were cared for and cherished by the father as if they were his own. Many people believe that the father considers it a waste of his time and money to support the children. It is typically too late for them to start a new family by the time they realise they have been deceived. Working for justice can hinder family communication, cut the father off from his children’s lives, and make it less likely that he will be able to have children in the future.

However, requesting a paternity test is a serious violation of trust, and it may not be worthwhile to discover the truth. There are no easy solutions, and society as a whole must acknowledge that masculine victims exist and deserve the same level of legal protection as female victims.