The question of a child’s paternity is often difficult and fraught with emotion, and New York law does not always offer clear answers. New York has a very strong presumption of paternity in cases of a child born in wedlock. It can be difficult for a person to rebut this presumption. State law allows the mother, a man claiming or disputing paternity, or certain other interested parties to initiate proceedings to determine the child’s paternity, and to make orders on issues like custody, visitation, and child support. A recent case from another state involves an alleged father and a presumed father, and it demonstrates how complicated these cases can become. New York has more than a few of its own complicated proceedings as well.
In a February 2015 decision, Anderson v. Richard, the Kansas Court of Appeals considered whether the trial court erred by dismissing an alleged father’s paternity action for lack of standing and subject matter jurisdiction. The petitioner claimed that he was the biological father of the child and requested genetic testing. He named the mother as respondent in his petition but did not include the presumed father as a party.
The mother moved to dismiss the case, arguing that he lacked standing under state law because the child had a presumed father. The trial court granted the motion, but the appellate court reversed, holding that an alleged father may assert a claim for paternity even if a child has a presumed father under state law. It also held, however, that state law requires joinder of a presumed father, or else the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. The court remanded the case to the trial court to give the alleged father the opportunity to amend his petition.