Thursday, January 10, 2008
Case Law Development: Default Administrative Child Support Order Does not Establish Paternity Sufficient to Support Criminal Non-Support Action
The Supreme Court of Missouri has issued a number of decisions this past year relating to paternity -- requiring greater process to prove or disprove paternity. In its latest decision, the court concluded that the state's child support administrative system was not sufficient process to establish paternity when the order was by default. The court held that, the state failed in its burden to prove the duty to support one's child where there was no final judgment of paternity by a circuit court and, thus, no "legal process" that judicially determined defendant's parentage. In the absence of a circuit court judgment, defendant was not prevented from collaterally attacking the administrative order used to establish his obligation of support that, in turn, served as the basis for this criminal prosecution. Because the State failed to prove that the child had been legitimated by "legal process," the judgment was reversed, and the case was remanded.
State v. Salazar, 236 S.W.3d 644 (October 30, 2007)
Opinion online (last visited November 9, 2008 bgf)