Best Interests Test Applies to Paternity Testing for a Child Born During Marriage
Posted on : December 3, 2016, By: Christopher Hildebrand
Best Interests Test Applies to Paternity Testing for a Child Born During Marriage
Paternity testing allows a court to determine the identity of a child’s biological father. Generally, courts order paternity testing when a child is born out of wedlock. A mother often seeks paternity testing to force the father to provide financial support for the child. However, a person who is alleged to be the father of a child may ask for paternity testing to obtain visitation or custody rights.
Can a court order paternity test to determine the biological father of a child born to a married woman? The Arizona Court of Appeals considered this issue in Ban v. Quigley, 812 P.2d 1014 (1991).
Facts and Background
Best Interests Test Applies to Paternity Testing for a Child Born During Marriage.
Mr. Fraulenfeld lived with Mrs. Ban during a period when she and her husband, Mr. Ban, were separated. Mr. Fraulenfeld claims that they became lovers in February of 1985.
Mrs. Ban had a child in November of 1985. At that point, she and Mr. Ban reconciled. Mr. Ban claimed to be the child’s father and the couple began raising the child together.
Mr. Fraulenfeld asked the court to order paternity testing to determine whether he or Mr. Ban was the child’s biological father. The trial court agreed and ordered paternity testing. Mr. and Mrs. Ban appealed.
Mrs. Ban and Mr. Ban argue that a putative father cannot bring a paternity action unless the child is born out of wedlock. The law provides:
“The paternity proceeding may also be commenced by the filing of a verified complaint by the mother or father, with the mother or father as plaintiff, or by the guardian or best friend of a child or children born out of wedlock”.
Mrs. Ban and Mr. Ban argue that the phrase “born out of wedlock” modifies all the parties listed. They claim that it does not just modify the clause, “guardian or best friend of a child or children”.
The Court of Appeals rejected this interpretation of the statute. Under this construction, the mere fact that a mother is married when she gives birth precludes a putative father’s claims. The Court ruled that the legislature did not intend such a result. It said the word “father” in the statute included any putative father, not just the mother’s husband.
Jennifer, thank you for being my attorney. I could not have been more pleased with the outcome of my family court hearing. Everything you have done for me throughout this case reflects in the final ruling of the judge. You helped me keep my head together and taught me a lot about myself as a person. I learned so much about my life from observing and listening to you. I will take all the advice you gave me to continue taking responsibility for my choices, continue to put the kids' needs first, and always stay truthful. Your diligence, dedication, and persistence in my case made what seemed impossible, possible. You are a wonderful person and an amazing attorney and I am stronger and more confident because of you.
I just want to again thank the Firm for working with me all that it has. I could not have done anything without everyone's assistance. You, Chris and Stacey have been and continue to provide me with compassion and hard work towards my case. Also a very special thanks to Kip for taking my case in the beginning. Also continued support from him and his dedication to providing me with his expertise in this matter.
After interviewing several law firms, I came across Jennifer Shick, and her firm, who I hired to represent me for my Family Court case. Jennifer has extensive knowledge of the law and is determined to bring the truth to every issue involved within the case. Throughout my case, Jennifer was prepared meticulously as well as went above and beyond all of my expectations. Even when the other party tried to differ from the truth, lie to the Judge, and turn situations around, Jennifer remained attentive and provided substantial evidence to show the judge the facts as well as the proof to support what was the best interests of my children. Additionally, Jennifer helped me endure many difficult experiences, situations and inspired me to remain positive throughout the entirety of my case. Her kindness, compassion, and professionalism helped me through very difficult times and made the process feel a thousand times lighter on my shoulders. She truly has my children and my best interest at heart and I trust her perspective as well as her honesty on each and every aspect of my case. She lessened the burden on my shoulders and even when I felt like the case was not going to go in my favor, Jennifer was open-minded and reassured me that the Judge would, in fact, see the truth, which he did and the case went in my favor. After nine months of court, everything finally came together. I cannot declare how much Jennifer has been an outstanding attorney. She addressed each and every issue with diligence, she cares about her clients and their families. Jennifer genuinely cares about her clients and her dedication to the details of the case was remarkable. Overall, I am extremely pleased with Jennifer’s services and I am truly thankful that I was so blessed to have her represent my children and me. I highly recommend Jennifer as one of the best attorneys in Arizona and if the situation ever arises, I will definitely have her represent my children and me again.
Dear Stacey and Kip, How can I ever thank you enough for helping me through the most difficult time in my life? I couldn't put into words my heartfelt gratefulness. You both were so compassionate and professional at every given moment throughout this process with me. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You helped me to regain my freedom.
I was a client of Attorney Kevin Park for the dissolution of a divorce in 2016. And since I had never had the need to hire an attorney before for any purpose, I was somewhat apprehensive of the process. But the very calm and professional demeanor of Mr. Park eased my fears. He adeptly answered all my questions and I clearly knew the process and what to expect. And the skilled manner he communicated with opposing counsel was perfect. When it came down to negotiating with my spouse’s counsel, I knew I had selected the best attorney for my situation. What I noticed and appreciated was that he was using just the right amount of pressure with opposing counsel as was necessary. If you find yourself in this situation, you will want a seasoned professional like Mr. Park on your side. I'm very grateful that he was my attorney and not the opposition!
Chris is a smart and aggressive attorney for his clients. Chris always tries to reach a fair settlement of his cases. I’ve represented clients when Chris was the opposing counsel and while he is professional and amicable to work with, he does not back off on what he needs to do for his client
Kevin Park of Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys was just what I needed for my divorce. He was very approachable and personable. He was quick to recognize what I needed and provided it quickly and efficiently. I hope to never need a divorce lawyer again, but if I know anyone else who does, I will definitely recommend Kevin.
I feel that Tracey Van Wickler is certainly one of the best family lawyers around. She is logical, intelligent, and truly cares. Tracey always does what is in the clients best interest, does it well, timely and with integrity. She is good at keeping her clients informed as to what is going on and clear in her communication both written and verbally. I have recommended Tracey to other people and will continue to recommend her. I recommended Tracey to someone who was having issues with their ex-wife and his response was, “I know how good she is because I went up against her and she ate me for lunch”. This same person was so impressed with her, he even recommended her to someone else, WOW, that is impressive! I am exceptionally happy with her attention to detail, her ability to explain things in ways that are easy to understand, as well as her ability to keep everyone focused on the most important things. I would recommend Tracey to anyone who may be in need of her services.
I retained Hildebrand Law after interview a number of firms in the valley. Working with Michael C. was incredibly easy and informative. My case progressed in such a organized and thought out way to ensure that my needs were met. Michael was incredibly proactive and was able to see far ahead into my case to steer clear of some roadblocks. I would not hesitate to recommend Michael Clancy, and Hildebrand Law in general, to anyone.
I have worked with Hildebrand law for about 8 years. They are always ready to serve, provide guidance and give you a few options. When they provide you options they also take the time to walk you through the pros and cons of each and give you a recommendation of what is best, but will listen to you and support whatever course you choose after making and educated choice. I’d recommend them to my closest friends and feel Chris Hildebrand is now a friend to me.
Despite the unfortunate situation I found myself in, Chris Hildebrand @ Hildebrand Law helped me maneuver every step with professionalism, expertise, and even a sensitivity that was an added bonus.Chris and his staff helped me even when I didn't know I needed the help. In other words. . . they made sure we did not leave anything undone. And in the rare instance we needed the expertise of another professional, Chris knew exactly who to recommend.Chris also knew, because of his experience, what to anticipate down the road of litigation. That meant we were better prepared to meet the challenges head on, which lead to a more equitable and fair outcome. I appreciated that Chris did his best to meet my every need in a timely fashion, even if I had a simple question that required only a phone call or e-mail or if we needed to talk face-to-face.I highly recommend Chris Hildebrand @ Hildebrand Law, PC.
Arizona’s public policy is to preserve the family unit when a woman and her husband claim to be a child’s parents. Because of this, the Court ruled, a court must consider the best interests of the child before ordering paternity testing. A putative father can seek blood tests to rebut the husband’s paternity only after it is first determined to be in the best interests of the child to do so.
To reach this conclusion, the Court of Appeals relied on several out-of-state cases, including the case of McDaniels v. Carlson, 738 P.2d 254 (1987), where the Washington Supreme Court interpreted the Uniform Parentage Act.
In that case, the court discussed the requirements for a paternity hearing brought by a man outside the family. It held that the court must first consider the impact of such a case on the child, which requires a consideration of the child’s best interests. The child must be a party and have a guardian ad litem appointed to look out for his interests in such circumstances.
Best Interests Test is Applicable to Paternity Testing When a Child is Born During Marriage.
In some circumstances, a child’s interests may be better served by maintaining a stable existing family relationship. In others, his interests may be better served by learning his true identity. The court must balance the interests of all parties involved. It must also keep in mind that the child’s interests are paramount.
Although Arizona has not adopted the UPA, the Court of Appeals found this reasoning persuasive. It said that requiring a specific finding of the child’s best interests does not violate a putative father’s constitutional rights. In fact, a man who fathers a child with a married woman does not have Constitutional rights to a relationship with his child, pursuant to the United States Supreme Court decision in the case of Michael H. v. Gerald D., 491 U.S. 110 (1989).
The Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court abused its discretion in failing to determine the child’s best interest before ordering paternity testing. It vacated the lower court order and remanded for the best interest hearing.
As Seen on CBS News, ABC News, NBC News, and Fox News
Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys, PC As Seen in the News.