A man is suing his wife for ‘every penny’ he spent on her son after finding out the eight-year-old boy was not his.
He has taken her to the High Court after it came to light the boy was actually fathered by someone she’d had an affair with in the past.
The man has been banned from making public the name of the child’s true biological father, with Mr Justice Cohen saying the boy must not be told ‘until the time was right’.
As reported by MailOnline, the judge outlined his decision in a written ruling following the latest round of litigation at private hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London.
He said no one involved could be named in media reports of the case, adding a social worker would give the family advice on the matter and decide when the boy should be given the information.
Details of the case first emerged in July when the judge published an earlier ruling, with the man and woman arguing over whether the boy should be told who his real father was. While the man said he should be told, his estranged wife was against telling him.
The man also wants damages to compensate for distress, after discovering the boy he had raised as his own was not actually his own.
The judge said the man had been devastated to learn that he was not the boy’s father, and was ‘full of controlled anger’ which he used to launch a ‘raft’ of litigation. However, Mr Justice Cohen acknowledged the woman was ‘full of remorse’ for the affair and for lying to her husband about being the boy’s biological father.
This isn’t the only case of this happening; figures released by the Child Support Agency 10 years ago showed one in 500 fathers were wrongly identified by mothers, according to The Guardian.
Although paternity fraud – or paternal discrepancy as it’s referred to by healthcare professionals – is difficult to track and there is little research done on the subject, a 2005 study published in the journal Epidemial Community Health found the median average of men unwittingly raising a child that isn’t theirs was four per cent (one father in 25).
However, paternity fraud is extremely difficult to prove and it is not sufficient to prove the man is not the child’s biological father. Instead, the accuser must demonstrate that the mother knowingly and willingly misled the father.
Although paternity fraud is not a criminal offence in the UK, in 2007 one man did successfully sue his partner when he discovered their child was not his.
In what was reported as the first known case of its kind to reach trial in Britain, the High Court ruled in favour of the man and ordered the woman to pay him more than £22,000 in damages.
The outcome of this case has not yet been decided.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).