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Appellate judges disagree about dismissal of paternity petition

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court in dismissing a paternity petition, but one judge dissented, saying the ruling now leaves the child with no legally recognized father.

In In the Matter of the Paternity of S.C.; K.C. v. C.C. and B.H., No. 30A01-1107-JP-322, CC. and B.H. had disputed who was father of S.C., a child born to mother K.C. in 2008.

K.C. and C.C. began dating in high school, and both knew B.H. At some point, K.C. had a sexual relationship with B.H., and in 2007, she was at B.H.’s house when she learned she was pregnant.

K.C. told C.C. about the pregnancy and said she believed he was the father, although she wondered if the child might be B.H.’s. She ended her relationship with B.H., and C.C. was with her when she gave birth.

On July 29, 2008, B.H. filed a verified petition for immediate paternity order in the Fayette Circuit Court, alleging he was S.C.’s father, requesting an order that the mother and S.C. submit to a DNA test, and asking that it be performed before K.C. and S.C.’s discharge from the hospital.

K.C. and S.C. submitted to blood tests, and on Aug. 4, 2008, the DNA Diagnostic Center in Fairfield, Ohio issued a DNA test report indicating a 99.9997% probability that B.H. was S.C.’s biological father.

K.C. and B.H. received the DNA test results in October. About a week later, C.C., pro se, and on behalf of S.C., filed a verified petition to establish paternity in the Hancock Circuit Court. He alleged that he was S.C.’s father based upon a July 30 paternity affidavit he and K.C. created. On Oct. 22, the Hancock Circuit Court issued an order establishing C.C.’s paternity; the Fayette Circuit Court held a hearing on B.H.’s paternity action, ultimately dismissing it, holding that it was not a petition for paternity, but rather a petition to require DNA testing.  

On June 25, 2010, B.H., by counsel, filed his verified petition for relief of judgment for fraud upon the court (the petition for relief) in the Hancock Circuit Court, alleging that C.C.’s paternity order was obtained through fraud. The Hancock Circuit Court granted B.H.’s petition, holding – among other findings – the mother had suspected the child might be B.H.’s and that her lawyer had not notified B.H. of the petition for paternity that C.C. had filed in Hancock County.

The COA affirmed the court’s decision to set aside C.C.’s paternity petition, writing, “We reiterate that this decision does not leave S.C. without a father and Mother without options. Even assuming that the July 31, 2008 DNA test was faulty or legally inadmissible, the parties are free to have another test performed and do what they will depending upon those results, including the pursuit of support proceedings against B.H. or the initiation of adoption proceedings by C.C.”

But Judge Patricia Riley dissented, writing, “All that has occurred here is the judicially imposed removal of that obligation since B.H. has not been legally recognized as S.C.’s father. This leads to an unjust result whereby B.H. is free to abandon his claim to S.C.’s paternity leaving S.C. with no one obliged to support her.”

 

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  1. If real money was spent on this study, what a shame. And if some air-head professor tries to use this to advance a career, pity the poor student. I am approaching a time that i (and others around me) should be vigilant. I don't think I'm anywhere near there yet, but seeing the subject I was looking forward to something I might use to look for some benchmarks. When finally finding my way to the hidden questionnaire all I could say to myself was...what a joke. Those are open and obvious signs of any impaired lawyer (or non-lawyer, for that matter), And if one needs a checklist to discern those tell-tale signs of impairment at any age, one shouldn't be practicing law. Another reason I don't regret dropping my ABA membership some number of years ago.

  2. The case should have been spiked. Give the kid a break. He can serve and maybe die for Uncle Sam and can't have a drink? Wow. And they won't even let him defend himself. What a gross lack of prosecutorial oversight and judgment. WOW

  3. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  4. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

  5. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

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