Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Case Law Development: Ohio Courts Uphold Constitutionality of Statutes Provided Expanded Relief from Paternity Judgments

The Ohio Supreme Court reversed a trial court's dismissal of an action for relief from paternity judgment.  The trial court had held that the Ohio statute allowing for such actions was unconstitutional because it infringed upon the exclusive authority of the Ohio Supreme Court to prescribe procedural rules for Ohio courts. The Supreme Court found that the statute established a substantive right, not a procedural right, and thus was not an unconstitutional infringement on judicial procedural authority.

The statute in question provided a right to seek relief from a paternity judgment based on genetic testing, even though the judgment would not otherwise be subject to attack under Rule 60 of the Ohio rules of procedure.  The Ohio Supreme Court held the statute created a substantive right and did not unconstitutionally infringe on the court's rulemaking authority.  The court noted that the general assembly had enacted the statute to "make it less likely that a person would be forced to support a child that is not his." Thus, the court concluded, although the statute is "necessarily packaged in procedural wrapping, it is clear to us that the General Assembly intended to create a substantive right to address potential injustice."

State ex rel. Loyd v. Lovelady, 108 Ohio St. 3d 86; 2006 Ohio 161; 2006 Ohio LEXIS 218
(February 1, 2006)

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