Friday, May 16, 2008

support - paternity - estoppel - right to hearing

Lebanon County CYW v. Wagner - Superior Court - May 14, 2008

“[I]n any child support matter in which paternity is denied on the grounds of estoppel, the trial court must conduct a hearing on the issue of estoppel and determine whether the mother is estopped from pursuing her claim against the alleged father.” Freedman v. McCandless, 654 A.2d 529, 533 (Pa. 1995) (emphasis added).

“Only when the doctrine of estoppel does not apply will the mother be permitted to proceed with a paternity claim against a putative father with the aid of a blood test.” Jones v. Trojak, 634 A.2d 201, 206 (Pa. 1993) (citation omitted). Thus, it was improper for the trial court to order genetic tests without providing Appellant a hearing on the issue of estoppel.

The fact that the child was in the custod of the county CYS is of no moment. The agency stands in the shoes of the parent and is bound by the parent's conduct concerning paternity.