We’ve seen plenty of paternity fraud before, but always done by a woman. Usually she tells a guy – or allows her husband to believe – that the child is his, when it’s not. That way, she gets to choose who she wants to be the dad. If she prefers Tom to Harry, she tells Tom the baby’s his whether it is or not.
The other way a woman commits paternity fraud is to disappear from the man’s life once she’s pregnant. Or, if he asks her whose it is, she tells him it’s someone else’s.
However it’s done, I have only seen two cases in which a woman paid any type of price for her deceipt. Back in 1990, a West Virginia woman, Anne Conaty, became pregnant with her boyfriend’s (John Kessel’s) child. He made it clear to her that he wanted to be a hands-on father, but she had other ideas. She fled to California and placed the child for adoption in Canada, fully aware that Kessel had gotten a temporary injunction against the adoption. The adoption was completed, but Kessel successfully sued Conaty, winning a judgment for $7.85 million against her and her California attorney.
In one other case, a Georgia man successfully got a judgment for return of child support he had paid for a child who was not his and about whom the mother had lied.
Here, by contrast, is a man who defrauded a woman and was sentenced to 4-23 months in prison for his trouble (MSNBC, 12/31/08). He had been paying child support for five years, but when the woman went to court to get the amount increased, he contested paternity and, when the time came to give DNA samples, sent a buddy in his place.
The buddy has been charged as well, and was also tried.
So what gives? Why is it that women can lie to men and courts about paternity without legal consequence? And it’s not that he lied under oath that made the difference; in divorce cases women often swear that the child is the husband’s without consequence when it’s not. What the guy did was scurrilous, but the same holds true for women who lie about paternity.
If it’s wrong, it’s wrong.
Thanks to Jeff for the heads-up.