Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New from the Indiana General Assembly - Paternity Affidavits

The Indiana Senate and House both bills dealing with paternity affidavits. I quote from the General Assembly's abstracts of the Bills but I recommend reading the actual language of each Bill. I have written about the Senate Bill here. The Senate will have a hearing tomorrow at 10:30 am and it may be webcast.

A thought came to me tonight about the Indiana Senate's Bill - it presumes that all men in a paternity situation have a relationship where they want joint custody. I noticed in the past few years where the parties in paternity cases do have a relationship that is far less tenuous than when I started practicing law. On the other hand, would a father appear at the hospital who has not an interest in the child?

While the Senate's Bill seems more concerned with creating a joint custody presumption than dealing with what I see as the real problem of paternity affidavits - fraud. The House's Bill does address fraud but in a rather strange way:

"Paternity affidavits. Provides that a paternity affidavit executed before or after the birth of a child who is born out of wedlock must include: (1) a statement by the mother that the person she has named as the father of the child is the only person who could possibly be the father and that she understands that she has committed fraud if a man other than the named man is the biological father; (2) a statement by the person named as the father that he has reviewed the mother's statements and that he understands that the paternity affidavit may not be rescinded more than 60 days after the paternity affidavit is executed; and (3) a sworn statement that includes an affirmation under the penalties of perjury that the representations in the paternity affidavit are true."
The proposed law places a criminal penalty on the woman but no method for the man to set aside the paternity affidavit based upon her fraud. Current case law makes the whole procedure of setting aside a paternity affidavit tricky. Give a look at my Paternity: New Case on Setting Aside Paternity and Want to Set Aside a Paternity Affidavit in Grant County, Indiana? for a taste of the problems. I might be more impressed if the Indiana House specifically allowed for a procedure to disestablish paternity.

1 comment:

Stuart Showalter said...

Sam-178 passed out of committee 9-2 but two amendments will be proposed. I am working closely with the authors and the bill's sponsor to ensure that they do not weaken the bill. I do expect that it will become law this year. Cheers-Stu