One does not know how often it happens, but surely it is far more prevalent than anyone would care to admit.
Until recently a man had to rely on his wife’s good word to know whether he had fathered her child.
One likes to think that all human beings are honorable, but, alas, in more than a few cases cheating wives have lied to their husbands about paternity. After all, it's in their best interest to do so.
DNA testing will, in many cases, provide a new incentive for women to tell the truth, or better, not to cheat.
Take the case of Richard and Helen Rodwell, recently adjudicated by a court in Great Britain. (hat/tip DeNihilist)
When they were married the Rodwells had two children. Helen Rodwell told her husband that the children were his. He treated them as his own, being a good father to them.
But, after the Rodwells were divorced, friends suggested to him that the children did not bear very much of a resemblance to him. They recommended that he have them take a paternity test.
Test results confirmed that neither child was his. Rodwell discovered that he had been duped by his wife.
Apparently, Helen Rodwell was sorely offended that her ex-husband would doubt her good word. She induced both children to cease all contact with their ex-father.
For his part, Rodwell had been willing to continue as their step-father, but the children have refused, accusing him of ruining their lives.
Since 2004 divorce Rodwell had paid out roughly $20,000 in child support.
When he took the case to court, Rodwell was awarded monetary damages on the grounds of “bereavement.” The court found that he had lost his children and had also, given the age of his second wife, lost the opportunity to father another child.
The Daily Mail reports:
Mr Rodwell was awarded compensation in 2011 of £12,500 for each child, and costs of £25,000. He also won a court order forcing his ex-wife to move out of the marital home, which is now up for sale for £119,995. Mrs Rodwell yesterday declined to comment.
I cannot tell you whether similar cases have been decided in American courts.
Common sense suggests that the court decided correctly by finding Richard Rodwell to be entitled to damages as the victim of a civil fraud.
Compensating him for “bereavement” feels like more of a stretch, but at least they did not call it a tax.