8.2.4 Paternity - Adjudication

Federal Authority:

Social Security Act

§454(20) -  State plan for child support and spousal support

§466(a)(2) and (19), (c) and (d) Requirement of statutorily prescribed procedures to improve effectiveness of child support enforcement

§468 - Encouragement of States to adopt simple civil process for voluntary acknowledging paternity and a civil procedure for       establishing paternity in contested cases


Code of Federal Regulations

45 CFR 303.5 Establishment of paternity 

45 CFR 303.7 Provision of services in intergovernmental IV-D cases 

45 CFR 303.101 Expedited processes 

Wyoming Statutes

Wyo. Stat. § 14-2-801 et. seq. Proceeding to adjudicate parentage


Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure

Rule 4, Processed

Rule 55, Default


Wyoming Child Support Enforcement Rules

Chapter 4, General Services


Wyoming Vital Records Services Rule

Chapter 4, Substitution of Birth Certificates

Policy Number:  8.2.4

Effective Date:  October 1, 2010

Overview

In Wyoming, paternity actions are filed in a civil docket in a District Court and may only be tried in front of a District Court Judge, not a jury.  In order to establish paternity, the District CSP Office shall be prepared to provide the District Court with the following basic elements:

Wyoming statutes also allow for either parent to request genetic testing to prove or disprove the paternity of a child as discussed in 8.2.3 Paternity - Genetic Testing.

Policy

In cases where the paternity of the child has not already been established or presumed, or when legal conflicts regarding paternity exist or potentially exist, paternity needs to be established through court action, or if appropriate in the case of a single alleged father, through voluntary acknowledgment as described in 8.2.2 Paternity – Voluntary Acknowledgment.

The following are situations when paternity establishment is necessary as defined by Wyoming statutes.  If there is/are,

Please see Appendix  8.A – Paternity Establishment Legal Action Rules for a table with the appropriate legal action for each paternity option.

Once a Petition to Establish Paternity and Support is filed with the District Court, the paternity action may take one of several different avenues.  For purposes of the examples below, the term “alleged father” will be used in each situation (e.g. stipulation, contested case, etc.); however, any of the situations listed above could also fit into the options listed below.

Stipulation

If the mother and alleged father agree he is the father of the child, the case worker will draft a stipulation for the parties to sign indicating the alleged father is the biological father of the child.  The stipulation does not have any legal effect until filed with the District Court and ratified by an order approving the stipulation signed by the District Court Judge. In lieu of a stipulation and order, the case worker may also draft a stipulated order for the parties and District Court Judge to sign.

After genetic testing indicates the alleged father is the biological father as illustrated in 8.2.4 Paternity – Genetic Testing, the mother and alleged father may also stipulate to paternity as shown above.

In each instance described above, at the same time paternity is established, the stipulation and order signed by the District Court Judge will also address child and medical support as detailed in 8.3 - Child Support and 8.4  - Medical Support.

Contested Case

If the mother and alleged father do not agree that the alleged father is the biological father, either party may request genetic testing to prove or disprove paternity.  For more information about genetic testing, please see 8.2.4 Paternity – Genetic Testing.  If the genetic testing results indicate the alleged father is also the biological father, the mother and father may stipulate to paternity as discussed above and proceed to court only for the issues of child or medical support, visitation, or custody, or the parties may proceed to court to argue all issues.

Note:  The District CSP Offices do not become involved in custody and visitation issues.

When the District Court Judge orders paternity, he or she will also address child and medical support as described in 8.3 Child Support and 8.4 Medical Support.

Temporary Order

If the genetic testing results indicate the alleged father is also the biological father, the District Court Judge may issue a temporary order establishing paternity and set a separate hearing for the contested issues of child or medical support, visitation, or custody.  

Default Order

In Wyoming, if the mother and alleged father are properly served according to the WRCP and either one does not appear at the hearing, the District CSP Attorney may request the District Court Judge enter a default order of paternity based upon Wyoming statutes and rules of civil procedure.  

Note:  The District CSP Offices do not become involved in custody and visitation issues.

Special Circumstances

Unavailability of Alleged Father

If the alleged father is unavailable or deceased, genetic testing may still be used to determine the paternity of a child as long as the District CSP Office has access to the alleged father’s genetic material or the genetic material of his relatives.  The case worker will discuss cases where the alleged father is unavailable or deceased with the District CSP Office Attorney.

 GAL

The District Court Judge will appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) in the following circumstances:

Intergovernmental Cases

The Uniform Intergovernmental Family Support Act (UIFSA) provides the Wyoming District Court with eight bases for jurisdiction over a non-resident alleged father.  See 8.2 Paternity for the list of the jurisdictional bases.  If Wyoming does not have jurisdiction over the alleged father and the alleged father is located in another State, the case worker will initiate the intergovernmental process as described in Chapter 11 Intergovernmental.

Tribal Cases

In order to ensure paternity is established in conjunction within the tribal culture of the Northern Arapahoe or Eastern Shoshone Tribes, the case worker will consult the District CSE Office Attorney and Chapter 16 Tribal IV-D before proceeding with paternity establishment.

Party Represented by an Attorney

If an attorney represents a case party, the District CSP Office will follow certain guidelines regarding release of information and communication with the party or attorney.  See 3.6 Confidentiality and Safeguarding Information – Release of Information and Appendix 8.E – Communication with Persons Represented by Counsel.

Cross Reference

Appendix 8.A – Paternity Establishment Legal Action Rules

Appendix 8.E – Communication with Persons Represented by Counsel

Version Number:  1

Last Revised Date:  July 1, 2014

Last Reviewed: July 1, 2014