Reforming Paternity Procedures: A Dannielynn in Illinois
Jeffrey A. Parness
Northern Illinois University - College of Law
February, 20 2008
Illinois Bar Journal, Vol. 95, p. 324, 2007
In the case involving the parentage of Dannielynn, born to Anna Nicole Smith in the Bahamas not long before Anna's passing, the public was wrong to assume that legal paternity for custody purposes would necessarily be determined by genetic ties; that there could be, at least at the outset, only one legal father; and, that legal paternity determinations in probate and custody proceedings would be the same. Employing Illinois law based on Dannielynn's assumed birth in Illinois, the confusion over American paternity laws is demonstrated.
Had Dannielynn been born in Illinois rather than in the Bahamas, inquiries into initial legal paternity and its later possible override seemingly would have yielded different results depending on the paternity 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 would always be dispositive. The differing possible results suggest the need for paternity procedure reforms in Illinois and elsewhere.
Keywords: paternity, birth, marital presumption, family law
Date posted: February 21, 2008