From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Paternity fraud is the term introduced by fathers' and men's rights activists for paternal discrepancy or a non-paternity event, in which a mother names a man to be the biological father of a child, particularly for the purpose of collecting child support (also referred to as child maintenance), when she knows or suspects that he is not the biological father. The term entered into common use in the late 1990s. It has been given significant coverage by U.S. activists and authors Tom Leykis, Glenn Sacks, and Wendy McElroy.
Fathers' rights activists state that in cases of paternity fraud, there are many potential victims: the non-biological father, the child deprived of a relationship with his/her biological father, and the biological father who is deprived of his relationship with his child. Subsidiary victims include the child's and the non-biological father's families. In particular, financial hardship may have resulted for the non-biological father's other children and spouse in cases in which the man was forced to make child support payments for another man's child.
In some jurisdictions in some countries, there is limited opportunity to legally challenge the assumption of paternity. For example, by forbidding men to challenge paternity, especially in the context of marriage, by limiting the amount of time allowed to challenge paternity, or by allowing women to make a claim of paternity without adequate chance for rebuttal by the alleged father. Such is the case in state of California. In some jurisdictions, the husband of the mother of a child is held to be the father, regardless of biological relationship.