Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Professor Jeffrey A. Parness (Northern Illinois University College of Law) has recently published his article entitled Reforming Paternity Procedures: A Dannielynn in Illinois, 95 Ill. B.J. 324 (2007).
By considering how Dannielynn's paternity (the daughter of Anna Nicole Smith and Larry Birkhead) would have been determined under Illinois law, Prof. Parness recommends that Illinois law needs to be reformed to account for such fact patterns. Here is the conclusion of his article:
Had Dannielynn been born in Illinois rather than in the Bahamas, inquiries into initial legal paternity and its later possible override may well have yielded different results depending on the establishment mechanism employed (birth certificate, marital presumption, lawsuit); the purpose for establishing paternity; and, whether the initially-designated legal father wished to continue to parent. Neither DNA nor birth into a married family is always dispositive.
The differing possible results for Dannielynn suggest the need for discussing reforms in paternity procedures in Illinois. What types of fraud should prompt paternity disestablishments in varying settings? When, if ever, should marital paternity presumptions be subject to rebuttals? What rationales, if any, support differing paternity tests in different contexts?
Confusion abounds while legal paternity issues continue to grow in varying civil case settings, with the public and their lawyers often confused. In the United States this year about 1.5 million children will be born to unwed mothers and about one half million of those children will have no father named on a birth certificate.
It is time to heed the Illinois Supreme Court's direction in John M. to petition the General Assembly, because any comprehensive paternity law reforms in Illinois are best done by statute. Possible reforms are discussed in my recent article, No Genetic Ties, No More Fathers, 39 John Marshall L Rev 1295 (2006), available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=958095.