Under Minnesota law, unmarried parents are required to support their children financially. They also have the right to pursue child custody rights. However, with unmarried couples there can be complications about the identity of the father, making it difficult for the mother to pursue child support and the father to pursue parental rights. These parents are often wise to work with a Minnesota paternity attorney.
In Iowa last week the state's supreme court ruled that unmarried women who allegedly lie about the identity of a child's father to collect money from another man can now be sued for fraud. According to the Des Moines register, more than one-third of children in the state were born out of wedlock in 2010, resulting in an increase in paternity disputes. Nonetheless, the courts have seen few cases of men who were swindled into paying child support.
The case stems from a man who sued for damages last summer after paternity testing revealed that he was not the biological father of a girl that he had believed he fathered. The paternity tests were originally ordered when the man attempted to obtain custody of the child.
After he learned he was not the father, the man filed a lawsuit, requesting reimbursement for money given to the minor child and her mother, and money spent in custody litigation. The case was initially thrown out because a judge did not believe what the mother did was a crime under state law.
But the state's supreme court found that although courts vary from state to state on whether to accept paternity fraud claims, this man's case had elements of common law fraud.
The justices did note that the man's case was rare, as he is not trying to avoid a court-ordered child support obligation but rather obtain reimbursement for money he was tricked into spending.
Iowa law will still generally not allow disproven fathers to seek reimbursement of already-paid court-ordered child support. This is because of a statute that prevents financial harm to mothers and children.
The reason that it appears that this case will proceed in spite of this law is because the accusations suggest the mother knowingly defrauded the man.
Paternity disputes can also be very complex here in Minnesota. For many, it may be best to establish paternity as early as possible to avoid potential costly disputes.
Source: Des Moines Register, "Paternity fraud lawsuits OK'd," Jeff Eckhoff, June 1, 2012