State v. Ian K. (Nebraska 2020)

306 Neb. 372 (2020)
July 2020

The state is not authorized to bring a paternity action for a child who is not born out-of-wedlock. The mother and husband were married and had a child. Genetic testing later proved the husband wasn’t the child’s biological father. The State filed a petition to establish paternity for the biological father and effectively disestablish the husband’s paternity. The Juvenile Court order granted the State’s request. The husband appealed. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment and gave directions to dismiss the paternity action. On appeal, both parties agreed that the state wasn’t an individual authorized to file a disestablishment petition. However, the state argued it had properly filed an action to establish paternity. The court noted that the paternity establishment process is purely statutory. On appeal, the language in the statute must be strictly construed. By definition, the statute allows the state to file to establish paternity for a child born out-of-wedlock. Under the facts, this child was born to married parents and was the husband’s legitimate child; therefore, the state was without authority to file a paternity action.