A paternity case involving a set of twins had a surprise ending worthy of a daytime TV talk show: The girls have different dads.
A judge ruled Monday in a paternity case that the man from whom the twins’ mother sought child support has to pay for only one of the children. A DNA test showed that he was almost certainly the father of one twin but wasn’t the father of the other.
It’s rare for a woman to give birth to twins with different fathers. Passaic County Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed wrote in his opinion that he found two other court cases nationally on such matters.
It can happen when the woman has sexual intercourse with two men in the same menstrual cycle and two of her eggs are fertilized separately by each man.
The case came to light when a Passaic County woman sought child support payments from a man she thought was the father of her daughters, who were born in January 2013. The DNA test was conducted.
In court testimony, the mother said she had sex with both men in a span of about a week.
Dr. Keith Eddleman, director of obstetrics at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, said the process in which two ova are fertilized within the same menstrual cycle by two separate sperm is called superfecundation. When twins have different fathers it is called bipaternal or heteropaternal twins, Eddleman said.
Since an egg has a life span of 12 to 48 hours and a sperm is viable for seven to 10 days, there is about a week’s time for potential overlap and the fertilization of two eggs by two sperm from two separate acts of intercourse with different men, according to Eddleman.
“It is more common than we think,” Eddleman said. “In many situations, you would never know because there is no reason to do a paternity test on twins.”
He believes the increase in the number of cases of bipaternal twins is a result of technological advances and the ability to detect it more easily.
The medical textbook example of bipaternal twins involves twins of different races, according to Eddleman.
There appears to be no central registry that documents cases of bipaternal twins, but some in the medical community believe it happens more frequently now than 50 years ago as a result of promiscuity, reproductive technologies, ovulation induction, and other factors, Mohammed said in his ruling.
Mohammed ordered the father to pay $28 a week in child support for the child, the ruling said.