New Paternity Case Decided in Kentucky

On June 5, the Kentucky Court of Appeals addressed the issue of father’s rights once again.  In Ison .v Ison (http://opinions.kycourts.net/coa/2012-CA-001271.pdf), the Court was tasked with struggling with the issue of how to treat biological fathers versus nonbiological fathers.  In this latest case, the biological father was not the husband of the mother which mirrored the facts in previous cases.  However, in this case, the truth arose during the pendency of a child abuse and neglect case.   The Commonwealth, acting through the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, sought to intervene in the divorce action to seek DNA testing.  The child’s lawyer (or guardian ad litem) also sought to intervene.

The Family Court allowed the state to intervene and ordered the paternity testing and the Court of Appeals confirmed this ruling.  The Court rejected the concept of paternity by estoppels under the facts of this case.

Additionally, the Court of Appeals considered the issue of fraud in such paternity matters.  The Family Court had ruled that the couple had perpetrated a fraud on the court by their claims that the husband was the father of the child.  The Court of Appeals overturned the fraud finding stating that the elements of fraud had not been met.

Although the case is to be published, it is surely not the last word on the topic.  The sticky issues of paternity in these cases will continue to be address in Kentucky cases.  Some studies indicate that ten percent of births involve issues of disputed parentage.  With 55,000 births in Kentucky each year, there are literally thousands of these cases flowing through family court each year. Every judge and divorce lawyer must be ready to address them.

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