Monday, January 22, 2007

Case Law Development: Liability for Child Support Arrearages When Paternity is Disproven

The Arkansas Surpeme Court held recently that  "an individual who was an adjudicated father or who acknowledged paternity, but was later determined not to be the father, shall have the previous finding or establishment of paternity set aside and he shall be relieved of any future obligation of support."  The court refused, however, to find that arrearages could also be set aside.  Here a default judgment had been obtained against the alleged father, who never paid any child support.  When he was brought before the court on contempt charges, he requested a paternity test.  Upon finding that the test excluded him as the father, the court discharged any future child support but held that the statutory language was clear and did not permit discharging past child support judgments.

A dissenting judge argues that "The decision today arguably reaches a grossly unfair result by saddling a person with a past-due support debt when that person has never claimed to be the father of the child and when he has been found, after paternity tests, not to be the biological father." and urges legislative clarification.

ARKANSAS OFFICE OF CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT V. PARKER,
2007 Ark. LEXIS 28 (January 11, 2007)
Opinion on the web (last visited January 15, 2006 bgf)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/family_law/2007/01/case_law_develo_1.html

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