Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Paternity Fraud in New York

The consultation started like most others do for a family law case. The court system was unjust, my ex-wife lied to the court, the judge hated me… But then, we moved on to the real reason why he was sitting across the table from me: he paid child support for 18 years for a child that wasn’t his. Just like Kanye West rapped in Gold Digger.

Apparently, his wife (and later his child), knew for years that someone else was the child’s father, but no one told him. After the divorce, when the wife and child fell on hard times, the child left and moved in with him. But when the relationship between him and the child broke down, the child decided to spill the secret, which the child had known for the better part of a decade.

He had already taken the first steps, going to court and getting the ex-wife to admit that the child wasn’t his and ending his child support. So why was he here? He wanted to know if he could sue his ex-wife for paternity fraud. Normally, a court will not direct the refund of an overpayment of child support, but this was a completely different situation.

Unfortunately, New York hasn’t tackled these situations and laid down a clear answer as to what to do in these situations. These cases are growing in frequency and will likely be coming up for judicial review soon. In my case, the ex-wife is now on public assistance and even if we won the case against her for fraud, the collection of that money would be nearly impossible. The prospective client wisely decided not to spend more money on attorneys for such a pyrrhic victory. But soon it will be time for someone to take that journey and test the issue in New York courts.

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