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Appellate judges affirm previous decision in paternity dispute

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A divided Indiana Court of Appeals on Tuesday reaffirmed its original opinion in In Re: The Matter of the Paternity of S.C.: K.C. (Appellant), and C.C. (Appellee), and B.H. (Appellee-Intervenor), 30A01-1107-JP-322, and ordered a rehearing, in which the appellate court affirmed the Hancock Circuit Court’s grant of B.H.’s verified petition for relief from judgment for fraud upon the court.

A DNA test showed B.H. is 99.9997 percent likely to be the father of a child with K.C.

Hancock Circuit Court granted C.C.’s petition to establish that he was the father of S.C. the day after it was filed. The order was issued a day before B.H.’s scheduled paternity hearing in Fayette Circuit Court, and B.H. was served with notice of the Hancock County paternity order at the hearing, according to the appellate ruling.

The Fayette Circuit Court dismissed B.H.’s case, and he filed a motion to set aside the Hancock County judgment “on grounds that Mother committed fraud upon the court in not informing the Hancock Circuit Court of the then-pending Fayette County proceeding,” according to the opinion.

The Hancock Circuit Court granted the motion, vacated the paternity judgment in favor of C.C., and ordered DNA testing that concluded B.H. was almost certainly the father.

Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote the rehearing joined by Judge Paul Mathias. Judge Patricia Riley dissented without a separate opinion.

In granting rehearing, Friedlander set aside mother K.C.’s claims that B.H.’s paternity action didn’t meet statutory requirements and that DNA tests were in dispute and inadmissible.

Those issues, Friedlander wrote, are “beside the point with respect to the Hancock County order under review. The question is whether Mother committed fraud upon the Hancock Circuit Court by failing to apprise that court of the Fayette County proceeding” that court records indicate she knew about.

“It is enough that the record supports the Hancock Circuit Court’s finding that a paternity action was indeed filed and pending in Fayette County and that Mother knew of the action when she participated in the Hancock County action,” Friedlander wrote in support of rehearing. "It is enough that there was evidence to support the Hancock Circuit Court’s finding that Mother did not inform the Hancock Circuit Court of the pending Fayette County paternity proceeding. And, it is enough that there was evidence to support the finding that Mother knew there was a reasonable possibility that B.H. was S.C.’s biological father, regardless of any defects or deficiencies in B.H.’s legal efforts to establish his paternity as a matter of law.”

 

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