Indiana Supreme Court Case and FindLaw Opinions. (2023)

Indiana Supreme Court.

J.M., Appellant (applicant below), v. M.A., et al., Appellees (required below).

Nr. 20S04–1012–CV–676.

Resolved: June 23, 2011

David C. Kolbe, Warsaw, IN, counsel for the applicant. Gregory F. Zoeller, Indiana Attorney General, Frances H. Barrow, Assistant Attorney General, Indianapolis, IN, Counsel to Defendants.

Referring to Indiana Circuit Court of Appeals Transfer Petition No. 20A04-0911-CV-640.

About a decade after J.M. After the state signed a paternity declaration, it filed for a child support order on behalf of the child's mother. In the course of this process, the lower court denied J.M. set aside the paternity affidavit on the grounds that his absence from a previous child support hearing confirmed his signing of the affidavit. We reversed the lower court's paternity decision and refiled this case to help J.M. the ability, agreed by the parties at the hearing, to contest the paternity claim in the manner described in our Code.

Facts and procedural history

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JM and Mom began dating in 1998 when T.H. I was already four months pregnant. The then seventeen-year-old J.M. signed on the day his mother W.H. gave birth, an affidavit of paternity. acknowledge that he was the father. MA is the custodian of WH and receives benefits from the Elkhart County Title IV D Bureau.1

The Elkhart County Attorney's Office filed an "Application for Acceptance of Child Support and Health Insurance Coverage" on April 7, 2009, and the court scheduled a hearing for May 22, 2009. JM (He said he was traveling out of state and attempts to find an attorney were unsuccessful.) The friend recorded the news on a court "minute sheet" and presented it on the day of the hearing. The lower court denied proceeding and conducted the hearing, concluding that J.M. It took over a month to find a lawyer. The court then entered a default judgment and a temporary alimony order, ordering that J.M. appear for a compliance hearing.

On August 11, 2009, J.M., now a lawyer, filed a lawsuit to have the declaration of paternity set aside. The lower court heard that motion at the same time as the September 15, 2009 enforcement hearing. The lower court found that J.M. at the [support hearing] the previously signed declaration of paternity was ratified.” (App. at 23.) The court noted:

It is the practice of this Court, upon timely filing or request, to require DNA testing for children who sign declarations of paternity before the age of 18 (eighteen), unless there is some form of ratification of that order. Mother states that she was four (4th) months pregnant when she and Mr. Hill began their whore affair and that [J.M.] knew at the time of the child's birth that he was not [W.H.'s] biological father. [W.H.].

(App. am 23.)

JM appealed, stating that its motion to set aside the paternity test was a motion to set aside the Indiana Rule of Trial 60(B) judgment. The Court of Appeals agreed, finding that the lower court had abused its discretion in finding J.M. revoke the declaration of paternity. JM v. M.A., 928 N.E.2d 230 (Ind.Ct.App.2010). The court also concluded that the mother's testimony that J.M. If the biological father was not approved by the state, pre-trial detention for genetic testing was not necessary. I walked. at 239. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals ruled that the paternity claim be void and reversed the lower court's order in which J.M. such as the legal parent and the child support order. We grant a transfer. JM v. M.A., 940 N.E.2d 832 (Ind.2010) (table).

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Standard Paternity Application

A declaration of paternity establishes paternity and establishes the rights and responsibilities of parents, including the right to child support, health insurance and parental leave. Ind. § 16-37-2-2(h) (2008). The Indiana Code also provides very restrictive circumstances for terminating a paternity claim.

(j) A declaration of paternity duly prepared under this Section may be revoked no later than sixty (60) days after the declaration of paternity was signed, unless a court:

(1) determined that there was fraud, coercion or a material error of fact in the performance of the paternity declaration; It is

(2) At the request of a man referred to in paragraph (i), he has ordered a genetic test and the test shows that the man is disqualified from being the father of the child.

Ind. § 16-37-2-2(j). The law specifically requires fraud, coercion or material error at the time of enforcement and genetic testing that excludes the man as the biological father of the child. The statute further states:

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(1) The Court may set aside the claim of paternity only if a genetic test ordered under subsection (i) or (j) excludes the person making the claim as the biological father of the child.

Ind. § 16-37-2-2(1). Item (i) limits the signer of the Paternity Declaration to 60 (sixty) days from the date of signing to submit an application for genetic testing. To testify to J.M. therefore, the lower court must find in subsection (j) that at the time J.M. The testimony was taken and a genetic test should exclude him as the biological father.

J.M.'s petition alleged facts which, if formally proven, could demonstrate that a material error may indeed have occurred at the time he made the declaration of paternity. He indicated that he signed the declaration believing he was doing so to enable guardianship to be established. He further claimed that he was a minor and acted without legal representation. (App. at 15.) The lower court's decision that J.M. In the confirmed maintenance hearing, the statement was false. As J.M. answered the court's question about the plain language of the affidavit that J.M. Being a minor and not highly educated, the Presiding Commissioner replied, "I think he should have attended the scheduled hearing," referring to the first supporting hearing. (Tr. in 6.) It was characteristic of the commissar's behavior.

The Court of Appeal ruled that since the mother testified that J.M. was not W.H.'s biological father, and the state admitted at a hearing that J.M. is not the father, a renewed order for a genetic test is not necessary. J.M., 928 N.E.2d at 236. However, the statutes at this point expressly state that a court can set aside a paternity claim only if the paternity test disqualifies the man as the biological father. The words of the parties or the agreement between the parties cannot replace legal requirements.

In conclusion, I would like to say that J.M. requested that we order the case reassigned to a new detective in custody. We see no reason to, as J.M. The ability to submit a request for a change of judge under Rule 76(C)(3) of the Rules of Procedure will be revived following a waiver and the Presiding Commissioner will no longer act as bailiff.


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We understand that the default order will only affect the process and the child support order. We have J.M.'s denial. reversed. to be canceled and sent back to J.M. to send. may be heard in your motion to reverse paternity in a manner consistent with the Indiana Code.


1.Title IV–D is a term describing the child support enforcement program of the federal Social Security Act. See U.S.C. §§ 601-680 (2006). Under the terms of Title IV-D, the State attempted to obtain from W.H. collect maintenance for the child. by J.M. in 2009. (App. at 1, 12.)

SHEPARD, President of the Tribunal.



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