May 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s official.  The 19th-century term “bastardy” that appeared in our paternity laws is banished from the statutes, effective March 14, 2011, by edict of the legislature.  Bastardy bows out.

The archaic term will be replaced with the concept of parentage, which is an improvement over the concept of paternity.  All future printings of the code will reflect the change.

In the recent COA case Miller v. Mills, decided May 3, 2011, Judge Maxwell used the term parentage in the context of a paternity action that had been filed in Louisiana, the judgment from which was sought to be enrolled and enforced in Mississippi: “Therefore, Ryan’s filing of a petition to establish parentage, custody, and visitation initiated a ‘child custody proceeding.’”  ¶ 9.  The opinion replaces the term paternity with parentage except where a specific statutory provision is mentioned.  The signal is that the new term is parentage, and that bastardy, paternity and filiation are fading away.

If the statutory language is segueing into the 21st century, wouldn’t it be a good idea for your pleadings to do likewise? “Complaint to Establish Parentage.”  Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

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