Current Paternity Fraud Policies
Paternity Fraud has always been a risk for husbands and for wealthy or famous men. As reported in one famous paternity fraud case:
"The former wife of billionaire Kirk Kerkorian has admitted the girl for whom he was asked to pay more than $320,000.00 in support is not his child and she faked DNA tests."
See the article: DNA Evidence Enough to Exonerate Dads
Several relatively new phenomena have caused a radical expansion of paternity fraud victimization beyond that perpetrated by cheating wives and gold diggers;
- Recent decades have seen enormous growth in the number of non marital births.
- The Supreme Court held that the Constitution does not prohibit use of the "preponderance of the evidence" standard rather than the "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" standard of paternity establishment cases.
- The most important, is that the government has become a dominant force in efforts to establish paternity as part of the drive to recoup welfare costs.
Federal law does not directly require paternity establishment. Instead, the federal government uses the "power of the purse" to impose conditions upon state eligibility for receipt of federal funds. Since the 1980's Congress has operated o the belief that federal welfare expenditures can be offset by recoupment of child support payments from noncustodial parents. Accordingly, federal law requires that a recipient of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) must assign to the government the right to receive child support payments. To maximize child support collects, the federal government requires each state to have paternity establishment procedures.
The federal government also provides penalties and incentives to the states related to their performance in paternity establishment. Federal law establishes a target of paternity establishment in ninety percent of cases. Failure to meet the target subjects the state to an escalating series of program improvement requirements and penalties. In addition, Congress has provided that states with the highest paternity establishment rates will be eligible for "bonus" or "incentive payments" from the federal government.
With billions of federal TANF and incentive payments at risk each year, the states have tremendous incentives to pursue high rates of paternity establishments. Federal law does not directly require paternity establishment. While nothing in federal law requires or authorizes establishing paternity fraud against the wrong man, there is also nothing in federal law that prohibits or penalizes tagging the wrong man. Eligibility for receipt of federal funds under TANF and under the incentive formula depends only upon tagging the largest possible number of men, and there is no review or requirement that it be the right men. With the enormous sums of federal funds that are at stake, the outcome is not difficult to predict. States are hugely incentivized to establish paternities and one man will serve as well as another.
In California: California has been notorious for its high rate of "sewer service," high rate of default judgments, and high rate of false paternity establishments. When the California Legislature attempted to ameliorate the problem of paternity fraud, then Governor Gray Davis vetoed the bill, saying:
"This Bill would directly impact child support collections and would jeopardize California's ability to meet federally required performance measures putting California at risk of losing up to $40 million in Federal Funds."
So, the Governor of the most populous state in the Union vetoed an effort to reduce paternity fraud because a reduction in paternity fraud might cost the government money. See the article: Preserving Paternity Fraud.
Florida: As the Tampa Tribune reported when Florida was debating paternity
"Department spokesman Dave Burns said the State would be hard pressed to find the real fathers should a law remove the burden of child support from non-fathers, "Until we could identify who the real dad is and begin making collections, then that family is likely to go on Public Assistance."
Missouri: In Missouri, local media reported on a father whose DNA test excluded
the possibility of paternity and wrote:
"But that made no difference. The State would consider letting Williams off-the-hook only if his attorney contacted the other two men and Williams paid for their paternity tests. Otherwise, Williams must pay child support until the two girls reach age eighteen . . . the State is just doing its job, insists Mike Shortridge, chief counsel for the DCSE. "It is in the best interest of the child to have an order for child support."
The bottom line in the drive to find some man, any man, to drive up the paternity establishment rate is that "fairness was not a high concern."