Paternity Fraud Statistics

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Updated on August 18, 2023

With its checkered history, paternity fraud is one of the most controversial social topics to date. Marriages ended, relationships broken, and other social ties strained after a paternity fraud incident. Here are a few paternity fraud statistics for your reading pleasure.

Low estimates of global paternity fraud stand at around 1% while high estimates suggest up to 30% globally. Estimates for misattributed paternity are much lower at around 0.02% to 3% from several sources. 

Some circles consider paternity fraud and misattributed paternity as the same thing. But paternity fraud is a deliberate, deceitful attempt to secure a child’s paternity while misattributed paternity is usually accidental. 

Statistics on paternity fraud are different across countries and it might be difficult to get representative numbers in some areas. 

We compiled ten (10) paternity fraud statistics you should know about. The information below makes it easy to get a better scope of paternity fraud across different countries. 

1. About 2 in 50 British fathers are unknowingly raising someone else’s child

The Telegraph

In a 2016 research, findings indicate that at least 1 in 50 fathers in Britain are not raising their own child. The study claims that these fathers are raising other men’s children due to paternity fraud.

Information in the research also shows that misattributed paternity isn’t as common as widely believed. Cases of misattributed paternity are believed to be much lower than those involving paternity fraud. 

2. The median rate of paternity fraud worldwide is 3.7%

Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 

A 2005 published review studied the discrepancies between paternity fraud figures across a global scale. Findings from the review showed that global paternity fraud percentages are within 0.8 – 30% with a median rate of 3.7%. 

Even if numbers from the said studies are old, numerous references to its scope and accuracy make it a valid statistic. They still serve as a major reference point today. 

3. A court in South Korea compensated a man with $42,380 for being a victim of paternity fraud

CBS News, Wikipedia

A South Korean man (named Mr. Doe for privacy protection purposes) received compensation for pain and suffering due to paternity fraud. The court pegged Mr. Doe’s settlement at $42,380 and ordered Mrs. Doe (accused) to remit the said sum. 

The court reached its judgment after a DNA test established Mrs. Doe’s infidelity and subsequent paternity fraud.  

At the time the ruling was reached (in 2004), few cases of paternity fraud were settled favorably for South Korean complainants. 

4. Paternity fraud isn’t a criminal offense in the UK (Unless done against people under the King’s lineage or Treason Act 1351)


Currently, the UK doesn’t have any explicit legislation against people who commit paternity fraud. However, anyone under the lineage of the King or covered by the Treason Act 1351 is protected against paternity fraud. 

Naming someone else’s child as belonging to an individual of royal descent is a crime. Other acts of paternity fraud and misattributed paternity against the royal bloodline are also criminal offenses in Britain.

5. Extensive paternity fraud research was conducted between the 1980s and 2000s

NCBI, Wikipedia

The mid-1980s through to the 1980s saw several studies focused on paternity fraud.  The studies focused on a massive scope and looked to cover previously understudied areas. 

Studies during this period relied on a combination of results gotten from genetic testing and DNA fingerprinting. 

6. 1 in 500 British fathers was misidentified prior to DNA testing

The Guardian

About 0.2% of 500 fathers in the UK have been victims of misattributed paternity. A series of government-approved DNA tests show that about one out of half-a-thousand dads are raising someone else’s child accidentally. 

The data corroborates information from other studies that refute the previously held belief of widespread paternity fraud.  

7. A 1990s study ranges paternity fraud in Mexico at 11.8%

Research Gate

A 1999 study involving hundreds of couples and their offspring in Mexico revealed an 11.8% paternity fraud rate. 

The incidence rate of paternity fraud in Mexico was among the highest recorded figures for several decades. However, the study’s limited scope may not make it an ideal option for general reference on Mexican paternity fraud. 

8. UK’s Child Support Agency paid over 3000 wrongly accused fathers since the mid-2000s

The Guardian

More than 3000 victims of paternity fraud received refunds from the Child Support Agency after successful court rulings. Thousands of pounds in maintenance payments went to affected men in less than a decade. 

9. The prevalence rate of paternity fraud in disputes is 26.9%


In disputes relating to the paternity of children, recent studies show higher levels of fraud and misattributed paternity. The mean incidence rate of actual paternity fraud reached as high as 26.9% in some studies. 

10. An Australian court overturned a $70,000 paternity fraud compensation for unproven “intent to deceive”

An Australian man received an AUD$70,000 compensation for paternity fraud in 2002. 

However, in 2005, an Australian court overturned the settlement award because the complainant couldn’t prove his ex-wife’s intent to deceive. And in 2006, the Child Support Agency ordered a man to pay legal fees for 18 months after losing two appeals.