Open Letter on SB 5997
February 14, 2014
I would ask the Senate Rules Committee, Senate Committee on Law & Justice and entire Washington State Legislature to please support Senate Bill 5997.
Senate Bill 5997 would allow the disestablishment of paternity when genetic testing shows by clear and convincing evidence that the wrong man has been named as the birth father of a child. A petition must be filed within two (2) years after knowledge of facts indicating the man is not the child’s birth father.
Currently under the Revised Codes of Washington State (RCW) when the wrong man is named as a child’s birth father there is no remedy to correct that error. SB 5997, when passed, would allow the court to correct that error by naming the correct man as a child’s birth father.
When a finding of paternity is made in error the consequences are many. A few of the obvious;– The child’s birth father has his child taken from him by our State Courts without a finding of parental unfitness. – The erroneous finding of paternity results in an adoption having taken place without notice or consent of the child’s actual father. – Both the child and birth father are denied forming a parental relationship. – The child is denied a right of identity, heritage, a familial bond and family medical history.
Before passing to the Rules Committee for a 2nd reading, a hearing for SB 5997 was held by the Committee on Law & Justice on January 20th. Several concerns were voiced in opposition and I would like to reply to those in support for this Bill.– “A person can already challenge paternity during the first four (4) years.”
Currently, RCW 26.26.535 and 2011 c 283 s 33, our courts can deny a petition to challenge paternity even when filed during the first four (4) years. SB 5997 would no longer allow that denial so that the correct man can be named as the child’s birth father.
In cases of fraud, not allowing a birth father to establish paternity simply because it was a really good lie is wrong.
A basic civil right to self, identity and a parental relationship with your birth father are basic human rights that I think we should all enjoy. Under our current RCW, we don’t.– “This bill does not increase the ability of our courts to enforce a support order.”
What more could we possibly add? Wage garnishments, IRS seizure, state liens, loan denial, license suspension, arrest, imprisonment, up to and including support orders against any random name from the phone book.
Nothing under SB 5997 hinders the state in placing and enforcing support orders, reimbursements or estate recovery. It simply gives our courts another tool to place them against the correct person when an error has been shown. There are no additional powers granted to the State under SB 5997 because there doesn’t need to be.– “This bill could be devastating to the child if left without child support.”
In this, the ends do not justify the means. Taking a child from its birth father without notice, consent or a finding of unfitness simply to enforce a support order is wrong.
Allowing no appeal to a court order based on what may be perjured testimony simply because four (4) years has passed is also wrong. Especially when our courts can deny such an appeal even when filed within that time.
We also can’t retroactively apply a disestablishment of paternity to a support order. Meaning, that the child has already received that support and it must still be paid. Aid, benefits and support would then accrue until applied to the correctly named man would it not? As I read it, nothing under Senate Bill 5997 changes that.– “Parentage does not require a person to be the biological father.”
There is no reason why you cannot develop a healthy, loving relationship with a non-biological father figure in your own life and SB 5997 does not prevent that in any way.
Nor does this Bill require that the Father only be a biological one and does not affect putative fathers who accept paternity irregardless.– “This bill gives an unlimited amount of time to contest paternity.”
Only in cases where fraud is suspect would a man have reason to petition paternity. And even then he must do so within two (2) years after knowledge of facts indicating the man is not the child’s birth father.– If you can have a common law wife then you can have a common law child, not knowing that the child isn’t really yours.
The days when if you shook hands with a woman on the third Thursday of an odd number month you are then considered married are over. We got rid of that years ago for just reason. Turns out that a relationship with your birth father is a good thing.
And the idea that any boyfriend who happens to be around at the time is just as good I find to be rather insulting.
Senate Bill 5997 would not prevent a false establishment of paternity. Now, however, once passed there would be a legal remedy when an error can be shown. Currently under Washington State RCW there is none.
Ethics, morals, family values, parental relationship, fairness and equity before the law. All good reasons to support Senate Bill 5997 and I am asking my Legislature to do just that.
Thank you for reading.
The legislative session this year is a short 60 days and is almost over. Citizens and readers can help pass SB 5997 by voicing your support on the Washington State website. Your message will be sent to every state legislator.