May 31, 2011 § 1 Comment
Ever since the supreme court’s ruling in Williams v. Williams, 843 So.2d 720 (Miss. 2003), that a man under a support order who is proven by DNA testing not to be the father of the child can not be required to continue to support the child, the procedure to be followed has been anything but clear. Up to now, it has been up to each chancellor or county judge to find a way.
Effective July 1, 2011, the law on this point is clarified and specified. The legislature has created a new MCA § 93-9-10, and amended 93-9-9, 93-9-28, 93-9-21, and 93-11-71, to spell out a uniform, orderly process. Here are the highlights:
- If parentage was established through a court order, and the father had been offered genetic testing and declined, he will not be granted the relief of disestablishment of parentage.
- If parentage was established by the father signing the birth certificate, he will have one year within which to request genetic testing. After that, he can not contest parentage except on a showing of fraud, duress or material mistake of fact. Current law allows only 60 days to contest parentage.
- If parentage was established because the parents were married at the time of the birth, the legal father will be allowed to petition for genetic testing so long as he did not continue to hold himself out as the father after learning that he was not the father, or if he prevented the actual biological father from asserting his parental rights. This last provision appears to reflect and cover the situation addressed in the case of Lee v. Lee, 12 So.3d 548 (Miss. App. 2009), which was discussed in a previous post.
This is intended only to be a general summary, so you should read the actual provisions when they appear in your legislative advance sheets.