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Divided high court affirms DNA unnecessary to establish paternity

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Indiana Supreme Court justices split 3-2 in affirming that DNA evidence is not required to establish paternity.

Justices issued a published order Thursday in In RE the Paternity of I.B.: K.H. v. I.B., b/n/f L.B., 34A02-1305-JP-401, denying transfer of a Howard Circuit ruling affirmed by the Court of Appeals. The order ends the appeal.

The Supreme Court held oral argument on whether to accept the appeal of K.H., who argued that the trial court lacked sufficient evidence to prove that he is the biological father. The court also ordered K.H. to pay child support after issuing findings that “provided by a preponderance of evidence, if not clearly and convincingly that … K.H. is the biological father of I.B.”

The child was born after mother L.B.’s marriage to C.B. dissolved, and both stipulated that C.B. was not I.B.’s father. K.H. appealed, arguing the trial court erred in concluding that L.B. had rebutted the statutory presumption that C.B. is I.B’s father in the absence of DNA evidence.

Justices Steven David, Mark Massa and Robert Rucker formed the majority that ordered to deny transfer of K.H.’s appeal without opinion, but Chief Justice Brent Dickson wrote a dissent joined by Justice Loretta Rush.

“I respectfully dissent from the denial of transfer and would prefer for this Court to address whether DNA evidence should be required whenever a child may face the risk of losing the presumption of being the biological child of the birth mother’s husband,” Dickson wrote.

“I believe that in any proceeding in which the presumption of biological paternity is potentially impinged, DNA testing, if available, should be mandatory as the exclusive way of providing conclusive, direct, clear, and convincing evidence to rebut the presumption,” he wrote. “Without supporting DNA genetic evidence, courts should not make any judicial determination that a child’s biological father is someone other than the biological mother’s husband when the child was born. Nothing less should suffice.

“I would grant transfer so that this Court can consider adopting this new evidentiary requirement,” Dickson wrote.

 

 

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  1. Bill Satterlee is, indeed, a true jazz aficionado. Part of my legal career was spent as an associate attorney with Hoeppner, Wagner & Evans in Valparaiso. Bill was instrumental (no pun intended) in introducing me to jazz music, thereby fostering my love for this genre. We would, occasionally, travel to Chicago on weekends and sit in on some outstanding jazz sessions at Andy's on Hubbard Street. Had it not been for Bill's love of jazz music, I never would have had the good fortune of hearing it played live at Andy's. And, most likely, I might never have begun listening to it as much as I do. Thanks, Bill.

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