Labels: acknowledgement of parentage, affidavit of parentage, best interests of child, child custody act, Judge Kirsten Frank Kelly, Judge Peter O'Connell, Judge Sawyer, Moiles, Revocation of Paternity Act
The Court of Appeals issued a real head scratcher today in Helton v Beaman. Bascially, the majority says that there is not best interests analysis when there is a revocation of an acknowledgement of paternity, relying on Moiles. But then the court goes on to say that the court can look at other factors and turns to the child custody act. First, it applies the change of circumstances/proper cause analysis to whether paternity should be revoked (to the extent that it will upset the established custodial environment of the child). Then it turns to the best interests factors in the child custody act, even though the opinion acknowledged that not even the best interests factors in ROPA apply. So at the end of the day, the COA affirmed the trial court’s decision which declined to set aside the acknowledgment of parentage. The concurring opinion by Kirsten Frank Kelly is pretty solid, in my humble opinion. It disagrees with Moiles and says that a conflict panel should be convened. The concurring opinion reasons that the best interests of the child from ROPA are to be applied in all revocation cases, including from a revocation of an acknowledgment of parentage. The concurrence explains why an acknowledgment of parentage is a paternity determination because it establishes paternity and makes the man who signs the affidavit of parentage the legal father of the child. The concurrence also provides a constitutional reason as to why the best interests from ROPA should apply. The dissenting opinion basically agrees with Moiles that the best interests factors do not apply to revocation of acknowledgment of parentage cases. The reasoning turns on the fact that ROPA's best interests section says it applies to "paternity determinations" and the dissent's opinion that an acknowledgment of parentage is not a paternity determination because it does not involve a finding by a court.