When does biology prevail over procedure when it comes to paternity and the support of a child? This question poses a myriad of difficult scenarios for the courts and leads to sometimes puzzling contrasts in decisions.
In the 2003 decision of Williams v. Williams, the Mississippi Supreme Court allowed a man to set aside a finding of paternity in an agreed divorce seven years later when the man filed a motion for a paternity test after noticing the child’s features and physical attributes were not similar to his. The Court held that it refused “to sanction the manifest injustice of forcing a man to support a child which science has proven not to be his....” Williams, 843 So. 2d 720 at 723. Note that the parties in Williams had separated in October of 1993 and the child was born in August of 1994. Here, science won out.
Greg Lee agreed to a divorce with his wife, Sonia, on June 22, 2005 and Greg agreed that one of the children born of the marriage was his, even though he had performed a home DNA test that showed the child was not his. Two years later, Greg, relying upon the Williams case filed a motion for DNA testing and terminate his obligation to support the child. The DNA test proved the child was not his, but the Court refused to overturn the paternity and custody agreement because Greg knew the child was not his and still assumed the obligation. Here, procedure won out.
One has to wonder if the Court in Williams should not have ruled that the separation of the parties coupled with the birth of the child should not have sent up a red flag to Mr. Williams. One has to also wonder if the real father of the Lee child showed up would he be denied paternity?