CHAPTER 296

FORMERLY

HOUSE BILL NO. 435

AS AMENDED BY SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 2

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 8, TITLE 13 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO PATERNITY, AND INCLUDING PROVISIONS FOR THE VOLUNTARY ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF PATERNITY; AND TO AMEND CHAPTER 31, TITLE 16 OF THE DELAWARE CODE, RELATING TO VITAL STATISTICS, TO PROVIDE FOR AN IN-HOSPITAL PROCEDURE FOR VOLUNTARY ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF PATERNITY; AND TO AMEND CHAPTER 13, TITLE 13 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

Section 1. Amend § 803, Chapter 8, Title 13 of the Delaware Code by adding the following new subsections (4) and (5):

"(4) The natural father may be established by an acknowledgement of paternity executed according to § 804(a)(5) of this Title or § 3121 of Title 16, subject to the provisions of § 804(c) of this Title.

(5) The natural father may be established by proof of a determination of paternity, whether by Court or administrative order, acknowledgement of paternity, or similar document, executed or issued according to the law of another state, sci long as such determination established paternity according to the law of such state."

Section 2. Amend § 804(a)(3), Chapter 8, Title 13 of the Delaware Code by striking subparagraph a thereof in its entirety and redesignating the remaining subparagraphs of subsection 804(a)(3).

Section 3. Amend § 804, Chapter 8, Title 13 of the Delaware Code by

striking the present paragraph (a)(5) in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof the to/lowing:

"(a)(5) He acknowledges his paternity of the child in a writing signed under oath by him and the mother and filed with the Office of Vital Statistics, which acknowledgement contains:

(i) the mother's address and social security number, her statement that the putative father is the only possible father and her consent to the acknowledgement of paternity;

(i) the putative father's address and social security number and his statement

that he is the biological father of the child;

(i) subject to the provisions of § 804(c) of this Title, their acknowledgement of a right to blood, tissue, or other genetic testing to determine paternity or non-paternity and of the right to otherwise dispute paternity in any subsequent action in which the paternity of the child by the putative father is an element of the claim for relief or a defense;

(i) a statement of the presumptive effect of the acknowledgement of paternity under § 804(c) this Title;

(i) a statement of the rights and responsibilities of acknowledging paternity, including that the acknowledgement of paternity establishes the duty of both parties to support the child, is the basis for the entry of a child support order without further proceedings to establish paternity, may be the basis for the putative father establishing custody and visitation rights, establishes inheritance rights, and may be the basis for requiring notice to the putative father prior to an adoption; and

(i) instructions for filing the acknowledgement with the Office of Vital Statistics."

Section 4. Amend § 804(a), Chapter 8 of Title 13 of the Delaware Code by adding a new paragraph (6) as follows:

"(6) Blood, tissue, or other genetic testing performed by order of the Court, or at the request of the man or the mother, establishes that the probability of paternity of the man being the father of the child is at least ninety-nine percent (997) and the laboratory providing genetic testing is certified or accredited by the Parentage Testing Committee of the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) and/or the American Society of Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (ASHI) or other similar

scientifically recognized certifying or accrediting body. A laboratory meeting the requirements of this paragraph shall be included within the meaning of "expert" as that term is used in this Chapter with regard to testing to determine paternity or nonpaternity."

Section 5. Amend § 804(b), Chapter 8, Title 13 of the Delaware Code by adding after the word "under"- and before the word "this" in the first sentence thereof the following: "paragraphs (a)(1) - (a)(4) and (a)(6) of ".

Section 6. Amend § 804, Chapter 8, Title 13 of the Delaware Code by adding thereto a new subsection to read as follows:

"(c) An acknowledgement of paternity made and filed pursuant to § 804(a)(5) of this Title or § 3121 of Title 16 shall be presumptive evidence of the paternity of the subject child, rebuttable only by clear and convincing evidence in an action in which the paternity or nonpaternity of the child is an element of the claim for relief or a defense, but only if such action has been filed in the Family Court within two years from the date the acknowledgement of paternity was signed by the parents.

(1) Commencing two years from the date on which an acknowledgement of paternity was signed by the parents, the presumption of paternity arising therefrom shall thereafter be final, binding, conclusive, and determinative of the child's paternity for all purposes and not subject to rebuttal.

(1) If a party was under 18 years of age on the date that party signed the acknowledgement of paternity, the presumption of paternity arising therefrom shall be final, binding, conclusive and determinative of the child's paternity for all purposes, as described in § 804(c)(1) of this section, commencing two years from the date such person has reached 18 years of age.

(1) Subject to the provisions of § 804(c)(1) and (2), the acknowledgement of paternity shall provide the basis for the entry of a child support order without any further proceedings to establish paternity."

(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of this Chapter, neither the child nor any person who has not properly filed an acknowledgement of paternity pursuant to §804 shall be subject to the final, binding, conclusive and determinative paternity designation created herein.

(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of this Chapter and in the event the Family Court determines that a person other than one who acknowledged paternity pursuant to his section is the natural father of the child or children, the Family Court shall declare the prior acknowledgement of paternity void.

Section 7. Amend § 805(a), Chapter 8, Title 13 of the Delaware Code by adding to the beginning of said subsection the following: "Subject to the limitations of § 804(c) of this Title, and except as otherwise provided by law,".

Section 8. Amend § 809(b), Chapter 8, Title 13 of the Delaware Code by adding after the word "other" and before the word "tests" in the first sentence thereof the following: "genetic".

Section 9. Amend § 810(e), Chapter 8, Title 13 of the Delaware Code by adding after the word "other" and before the word "tests" in the first sentence thereof the following: "genetic"; and by striking the second sentence thereof in its entirety and adding in lieu thereof the following: The tests shall be performed by a laboratory meeting the qualifications described in § 804(a)(6) of this Title."

Section 10. Amend § 810(f)(4), Chapter 8, Title 13 of the Delaware Code by adding after the word "blood" and before the word "tests" the following: ", tissue, or other genetic".

Section 11. Amend § 810(f)(5), Chapter 8, Title 13 of the Delaware Code by adding after the word "blood" and before the word "samples" the following: ", tissue, or other genetic test".

Section 12. Amend § 810(f), Chapter 8, Title 13 of the Delaware Code by adding a new subsection (7) as follows and renumbering the remaining subsection:

"(7) A copy of an acknowledgement of paternity, as provided in § 803(4) and (5) or § 804(a)(5) of this Title. A reproduction prepared pursuant to 16 Del C § 3107 or a duplicate copy is admissible to the same extent as the original to prove paternity without foundation testimony, unless an objection raising a genuine question as to the authenticity of the original is made prior to or at the hearing at which the acknowledgement will be submitted as evidence."

Section 13. Amend § 810(h), Chapter 8, Title 13 of the Delaware Code by adding after the word "blood" and before the word "tests" the following: ", tissue, or other genetic".

Section 14. Amend § 811(a), Chapter 8, Title 13 of the Delaware Code by deleting the portion thereof beginning with the subsection (a) designation and ending with the phrase "provided that:" and by inserting in lieu thereof the following:

"(a) Notwithstanding the Delaware Uniform Rules of Evidence, the results of any blood, tissue, or other genetic testing ordered under this Chapter, or any blood, tissue, or other genetic testing requested by or voluntarily submitted to by the parties, whether before or after the commencement of an action under this Chapter or Chapter 5 of this Title, performed by a laboratory meeting the requirements of subsection 804(a)(6) of this Title, shall be admissible in Court as substantive evidence of the paternity or nonpaternity of the alleged father. Such admission may be accomplished by filing in Family Court the results of the test performed by the expert, provided that:".

Section 15. Amend § 811(a), Chapter 8, Title 13 of the Delaware Code by adding a new paragraph to read as follows:

"(4) Any objection to the admission of the blood, tissue, or other genetic test results must be made with particularity and filed in writing within seven days prior to the hearing at which the test results will be submitted as evidence. If no such objection is made, the test results shall be admissible as evidence of paternity or nonpaternity without foundation testimony or other proof of authenticity or accuracy."

Section 16. Amend § 812, Chapter 8, Title 13 of the Delaware Code by

striking the present subsection (a) in its entirety and substituting in lieu thereof the following:

"(a) A judgment and order of the Court determining the existence or non-existence of the parent-and-child relationship, whether based upon an admission or an adjudication after disputed paternity proceedings, and regardless of whether made in an action brought under this Chapter or Chapter 5 of this Title, or after an acknowledgement of paternity as described in § 803 and § 804 of this Title or § 3121 of Title 16, is determinative of the child's paternity for all purposes and shall be final, binding, and conclusive on all parties to the proceeding and shall operate as a final adjudication on the merits as to the issue of paternity in any subsequent action for determination of paternity, child support, custody, visitation, or any other civil or criminal action in which the paternity or nonpaternity of the child by the putative father is an element of the claim for relief or a defense."

Section 17. Amend § 812(c), Chapter 8, Title 13 of the Delaware Code by adding between the words "order" and "may" the following: "determining the existence of the parent-and-child relationship or which includes a finding that the parent-and-child relationship has been established pursuant to § 803 or § 804 of this Title".

Section 18. Amend § 812, Chapter 8, Title 13 of the Delaware Code by adding a new subsection (d) to read as follows:

"(d) A man found not to be the father by judgment and order of the Court determining the non-existence of the parent-and-child relationship shall have no right of reimbursement for any child support or medical expenses paid prior to the date on which notice of the action in which he was found not to be the father was served on the other party or public agency to which the payments were or are being made.

This subsection shall not apply where, prior to a finding of paternity and entry of a final child support order, the putative father asserts non-paternity as a defense in the initial action brought for entry of an order of child support or medical support."

Section 19. Amend § 813, Chapter 8, Title 13 of the Delaware Code by adding after the word "other" and before the word "tests" in the first sentence thereof the following: "genetic".

Section 20. Amend § 817, Chapter 8, Title 13 of the Delaware Code by striking the first sentence thereof in its entirety and substituting in lieu thereof the following: "Upon order of a court of this State, upon request of a court of another state, or upon receipt of a properly executed acknowledgement of paternity or administrative order, executed or issued in this State or any other state, which establishes paternity or creates a presumption of paternity under the law of the state in which it was issued or executed, the State Registrar of Births shall prepare an amended birth registration or new certificate of birth as the case may be, consistent with the document received."

Section 21. Amend § 1301, Chapter 13, Title 13 of the Delaware Code by striking the phrase "Prothonotary's office of any county of the State" as it appears at the end of said section and inserting in lieu thereof the following: "Office of Vital Statistics according to Section 804 of this Title or Section 3121 of Title 16."

Section 22. Amend § 3121, Chapter 31, Title 16 of the Delaware Code by adding new subsections (c) and (d) as follows and renumbering the remaining subsections:

"(c) When a child is born to an unmarried woman in an institution, the person responsible for completing the birth certificate, or his or her designated representative, shall:

(1) Provide written information prepared by the Division of Child Support Enforcement to the mother and the putative father, if he is present, explaining the rights and responsibilities of acknowledging paternity;

(2) Provide the mother and the putative father the opportunity to sign an acknowledgement of paternity as described in subsection (d) of this section and provide notary public services for this purpose;

(3) Provide the mother and the putative father with a copy of the signed and notarized acknowledgement; and

(4) File the signed and notarized acknowledgement with the Office of Vital Statistics within ten days after execution. The Office of Vital Statistics shall send a copy of the acknowledgement to the Division of Child Support Enforcement within seven days after it receives the acknowledgement.(i) the mother's address and social security number, her statement that the putative father is the only possible father and her consent to the acknowledgement of paternity;

(if) the putative father's address and social security number and his statement that he is the biological father of the child;

(iii) subject to the provisions of § 804(c) of Title 13, their acknowledgement of a right to blood, tissue or other genetic testing to determine paternity or nonpaternity and of the right to otherwise dispute paternity in any civil or criminal action in which the paternity of the child by the putative father is an element of the claim for relief or a defense;

(i) a statement of the presumptive effect of the acknowledgement of paternity under § 804(c) of Title 13;

(i) a statement of the rights and responsibilities of acknowledging paternity, including that the acknowledgement of paternity establishes the duty of both parties to support the child, is the basis for the entry of a child support order without further proceedings to establish paternity, may be the basis for the putative father establishing custody and visitation rights, establishes inheritance rights, and may be the basis for requiring notice to the putative father prior to an adoption; and

(i) instructions for filing the acknowledgement with the Office of Vital Statistics."

Section 23. Amend former paragraph (e)(2), now renumbered paragraph

(g)(2), § 3121, Chapter 31, Title 16 of the Delaware Code by striking the period [.] at the end thereof and adding the following: or an acknowledgement of paternity which is signed by both parents and their signatures notarized."

Section 24. Amend § 3127, Chapter 31, Title 16 of the Delaware Code by striking the first sentence of said section in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof the following: In cases of acknowledgement or establishment of paternity, the State Registrar, upon receipt of a court order, an administrative order, or a properly executed acknowledgement of paternity, executed or issued in this State or any other state, which establishes paternity or creates a presumption of paternity under the law of the state in which it was executed or issued, shall prepare an amended or new certificate of birth, as the case may be, consistent with the document."

Section 25. Amend § 3127, Chapter 31, Title 16 of the Delaware Code by striking the period [.] at the end of said section and adding the following: or upon application of the Division of Child Support Enforcement certifying that the child for whom information is sought is the subject of a child support case administered by the Division under Title IV-D of the Federal Social Security Act [42 U.S.C. Section 651 et seq.]."

Section 26. The provisions of this Act amending Chapter 31 of Title 16 of the Delaware Code shall become effective on January 1, 1995. All other provisions of this Act shall become effective the day that it is enacted into law.

Section 27. If any provision of this Act or the application thereof to any person or circumstances is held invalid, the invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the Act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this Act are severable.

Approved July 5, 1994.