DBTC Law Firm

Who’s your Daddy?!

Despite DNA evidence proving that the previously presumed father is not the actual father, the Arkansas Court of Appeals holds that “once the Daddy, always the Daddy.” Arkansas law thus indulges the conclusion that even though there is a scientific certainty that a particular man is not the father of the child, if the law has already determined that he is the father, the scientific facts are not relevant.
In a recent Arkansas Court of Appeals case, the Court addressed a mother’s challenge to the presumed father’s paternity of her daughter.  On April 23, 2007, Turley Osburn gave birth to a daughter, M.G.  At the time of birth, Miles Griffin and Osburn were in a relationship and had been living together for several months.  Around the time of the birth, Griffin and Osburn signed an acknowledgment of paternity – a document whereby the mother and purported father acknowledge paternity – regarding M.G.  In late 2007, Griffin and Osburn separated.

Thereafter, Griffin was sporadically involved in M.G.’s life.  However, Griffin’s parents, the Madisons, the purported grandparents of M.G., had a significant relationship with M.G.  In February 2010, the Madisons and Osburn’s relationship deteriorated to the point where Osburn refused to allow the Madisons visitation of M.G.  On March 23, 2010, the Madisons, as grandparents, filed a petition of guardianship for M.G.  Osburn responded, denying Griffin was the biological father of M.G., which, in turn, denied that the Madisons were M.G.’s grandparents.  On April 8, 2010, Griffin filed a petition to establish paternity.  The guardianship and paternity actions were consolidated.

Under Arkansas Code Annotated §9-10-120, “a man is the father of a child for all intents and purposes if he and the mother execute an acknowledgment of paternity.”  Pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated §9-10-115, beyond sixty days after establishment of paternity pursuant to an acknowledgment of paternity, a party may challenge the acknowledgment of paternity only upon allegations of fraud, duress, or material mistake.

At the trial, Osburn introduced DNA evidence showing that Griffin was not the biological father of M.G.  The Court, however, found that, pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated §9-10-115, Osburn failed to prove fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact in the obtaining of the acknowledgment of paternity.  In effect, the Court held that, despite DNA evidence proving that a man is not the biological father, if a mother or purported father fails to abide by Arkansas’ paternity statutes “once the Daddy, always the Daddy.”

Although the court found that Griffin was M.G.’s father, it denied the Madisons’ petition of guardianship of M.G., but granted grandparent-visitation rights to the Madisons.

Madison v. Osburn, 2012 Ark. App. 212 (2012).

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