Parent Trap: Maria and Enrique

"I am the victim of paternity fraud. I am paying full child support for someone who's not my biological child," says Enrique. "Selina was 10 years old when

I discovered she wasn't my biological child. It was devastating. My ex-wife, Maria, committed a crime by lying on the birth certificate."


Enrique and Maria met while attending college, and their daughter, Araceli, was born a few years into their marriage. Selina was born two years later, and two years after that, they divorced. "The day Selina was born was an ecstatic day for me. I didn't have any reason to believe Selina was not my child," Enrique shares.


"For 10 years, Enrique never questioned the girls' appearances. Three years ago, things chan

ged. He remarried. The person responsible for all of this is Mia, his wife," says Maria. "Mia urged him to do the paternity test on Selina, to get out of paying child support. She's evil. She's conniving."


"The first time I saw Selina's picture, I had a suspicion that she was not Enrique's daughter," Mia says.


Enrique says that he didn't believe what Mia was suggesting. "I asked Maria for the truth. Maria insisted there was no possibility of anyone else. I told Maria, ‘I'm going to get a DNA test.' That's when she actually broke down and said, ‘Yes. You're not the biological father,'" he reveals. "I feel totally preyed upon. I'm responsible for child support until she's 18." 

Maria says that Enrique revealed the truth about the situation to their daughters. "Enrique told both the girls, without me present, that I had had sex with somebody else, and that's how Selina was conc

eived," she says. "Enrique packed up all of Selina's belongings from his house, and he sent them back with Araceli. He made the choice three years ago to stop seeing [Selina], and he doesn't call her his daughter. I don't understand how after nine years that a piece of paper could dictate whether or not a child is yours."


Mia says it's Maria who has caused the strain between Enrique and his daughters. "Maria has systematically alienated the girls from Enrique," she

says. "Maria doesn't have a conscience. Her greed and lies know no limitations ...  Basically, Maria told the judge, ‘I cheated on him. I tricked him. I got him fair and square. I want my money.'"


Maria is convinced that Mia is the mastermind behind Enrique's actions. "This is not something that Enrique would have done. He just doesn't have the balls to do it. He was being coached by his wife," she says. "Enrique abandoned Selina. He betrayed her in every which way. All of his anger toward me was shifted to her. He needs to face me, not the girls ... The only victims in this have been Araceli and Selina, primarily Selina."

Fifteen-year-old Araceli, and 13-year-old Selina share their thoughts on the situation.


"I used to think that I was just a younger version of him, because we act the same, and we do the same things, even though we don't look alike," Selina says of the only dad she knew for 10 years. She vividly remembers the day she found out the truth about her identity. "My father took me to the park, and I thought we were going to go play because we always used to do that. He asked me if I knew how babies were made, and then he just switched the conversation. He said, ‘You're not my biological daughter,'" she recalls. "I didn't expect it at all."


"To find out that my father was not her biological father but he was still mine was just a big shock," Araceli says. "We both just were scared. We didn't know what to think. She looked like she just found out someone died."


Maria says that after Enrique broke the news to the girls, he brought them back to her house. "He doesn't even come inside. He just drops them off at the curb, and they're hysterical. They don't understand what had happened. They want me,

Mommy, to fix it. ‘Why did Daddy do this?'" she remembers through tears. "Enrique emotionally wrecked Selina." With tears running down her face she continues, "Every night she would cry herself to sleep. She was in denial. She believed that one day he would change his mind, that he would reconsider and pick her up. She really believed that."

Selina laments, "I would just look at my sister and ask myself what she had that I didn't, and why he wouldn't want to pick me up anymore."


Araceli commiserated with her sister. "It was so horrible for her just to feel abandoned, especially since I would still see him," she says. "I'm scared that Selena will never be able to trust another male figure because of what my dad has done. She'll become bitter. She's going to end up with the wrong type of guys. She's going to give herself away to the first guy who comes along, because

he's there for her, unlike my dad." 


Selina says that she learned to live without Enrique in her life. "I just knew that he was turning his back on me, that he didn't want to be my dad anymore. I thought that our bond together was stronger than that," she says, wiping away the tears running down her face. "He feels that he's the victim, but he doesn't know how much I got hurt."


Dr. Phil explains that after Enrique had the DNA test done, and it proved he was not th

e biological father, the court still viewed him as Selina's dad. "The court says, ‘Too bad. You're on the birth certificate. It's been too long. You're going to have to continue to pay child support,'" he says. "You object to that."


"Yes," he agrees.


Maria shares her thoughts. "To me, he is responsible. He raised her for nine years. A piece of paper can't sa

y a child is no longer yours, so it's not your responsibility emotionally or financially," she says.

"You knew he wasn't the father, right?" Dr. Phil asks her.

"No," Maria says.

Dr. Phil takes her to task. "Didn't you say to him before the child was born, ‘Now, be prepared, she's going to look different. She's going to look like my father'?" he asks.

"Never," she replies.

Enrique disagrees with Maria. "She said, ‘I think our daughter is going to be dark. Curly hair runs in my family,'" he recalls. "When I initially called her, she told me, ‘No. You're Selina's father. There is no possibility that there is anyone else.'"

"Somebody here is not telling the truth," Dr. Phil says to the parents. "You never said, 'The baby's going to look different so be prepared.' You never said on three different occasions, 'Yes, it is definitely your child. No chance.'"


Maria maintains that she never said anything to Enrique.

"Are you telling me you had no idea that this was not Enrique's child?" Dr. Phil asks Maria.

"I knew that there was a possibility," she says.

"You're saying, ‘He didn't ask, so I didn't tell,'" Dr. Phil says. "You don't generally ask your wife when she's pregnant, ‘By the way, that is mine, isn't it?'"

"Our marriage was already on the rocks at that point," Maria says.


"Did you suspect it before?" Dr. Phil asks Enrique.

"It all seemed perfectly natural since she had pointed out, ‘My father has dark skin. Curly hair runs in the family,'" he says. 

Dr. Phil asks Mia, "Are you the mastermind behind this? Are you the one who saw it, brought it up, encouraged him to do something about it?"


"The moment I saw Selena, I knew that she was not his biological daughter, and I felt that he should know the truth," she says. "It was up to Enrique to decide what he wanted to do with

that truth."


"Actually, you said, ‘He relies on my judgment and instincts and would follow my thinking on this,'" Dr. Phil says.

"When I mentioned this to him, I knew he knew immediately that I was right, because he usually does rely on my instincts," Mia says.


Turning to Maria and her husband, Chris, Dr. Phil says, "You think this is all about money."

Both agree. "It was just pretty coincidental that as soon as we formally asked for child support, he goes and asks for a DNA test," Chris says.

Maria adds, "On one of the conversations he basically says, ‘To show your remorse for your infidelity, you should only take child support for one of the children and not the other.'"

"Should he pay child support for a child you had with someone else?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Yes. I believe so. After nine years of raising her," Maria says.

Mia says, "Why should he ask? He was in love with her. He didn't know that she had had intimate relations with another man."

Speaking from the perspective of a father, Dr. Phil says to Enrique, "This is a child, that from birth, you held in your arms. You changed diapers. You fed. You played with. You put to bed at night, crawled in bed with you in the morning, went to the park. You played. You did all of these things that fathe

rs and children do, and when you get this DNA sheet that says this is not biologically my child, you took this child to the park and told her this?" He continues. "This is a child. Children look at their father like he gets up in the morning and lets the sun out every day." He notes that Enrique severed all relations with Selina at that point, including allowing her to join Araceli on visitations with him.

"I regret stopping visitations with Selina. I regret that to this very day," Enrique admits. "But I do believe she deserved to know the truth."

"But it did happen, and she feels really abandoned," Dr. Phil says.