It isn’t unusual for one woman to have two children fathered by two different men and receive child support from each man for his biological child. But when the two children are twins, it is certainly an unusual situation.
Unusual or not, this scenario happened recently to a New Jersey woman. After the County Board of Social Services filed a petition to determine paternity of the twins, the DNA results from the test showed that each child had a different father.
Given this uncommon circumstance of a condition known as “superfecundation,” determination of child support can be not only a legal, but a scientific question as well. When asked to pay child support, many men do so without questioning whether they are actually the father of the child. In this case, it would’ve been even more unlikely that one man would challenge the paternity of the other twin if he was determined by DNA results to be the father of one.
So how does this unusual phenomenon happen? It is basically just the science of human reproduction. Most women produce only one healthy egg per month, but more can be produced. If that happens, and the woman has sexual relations with two different men within a brief period of time, the result can be a set of twins with different fathers.
The number of bipaternal twins may not necessarily have increased substantially over time, but more are identified now due to advances in DNA technology. An article authored in 1997 estimated that one in 13,000 cases involving twins showed that each had a different father.
The ramifications of child support can be extensive, both financially and emotionally, when a father learns at some point in the future that the child he has been supporting is not his biological child. The media coverage surrounding this recent case is a good lesson in favor of paternity tests when there is any doubt at all.