TITLE 13

Domestic Relations

CHAPTER 8. UNIFORM PARENTAGE ACT

Part 1. 2. 3.

NATURE OF PROCEEDING SPECIAL RULES FOR PROCEEDING TO ADJUDICATE PARENTAGE HEARINGS AND ADJUDICATION

Subchapter VI. Proceeding to Adjudicate Parentage


A civil proceeding may be maintained to adjudicate the parentage of a child. The proceeding is governed by the Family Court Rules of Civil Procedure.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1.;

Subject to subchapter III of this chapter and §§ 8-607 and 8-609 of this title, a proceeding to adjudicate parentage may be maintained by:

(1) The child;

(2) The mother of the child;

(3) A man whose paternity of the child is to be adjudicated;

(4) The support-enforcement agency;

(5) An authorized adoption agency or licensed child-placing agency; or

(6) A representative authorized by law to act for an individual who would otherwise be entitled to maintain a proceeding but who is deceased, incapacitated, or a minor.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

The following individuals must be joined as parties in a proceeding to adjudicate parentage:

(1) The mother of the child; and

(2) A man whose paternity of the child is to be adjudicated.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

(a) An individual may not be adjudicated to be a parent unless the court has personal jurisdiction over the individual.

(b) A court of this State having jurisdiction to adjudicate parentage may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident individual, or the guardian or conservator of the individual, if the conditions prescribed in § 610 of this title are fulfilled.

(c) Lack of jurisdiction over one individual does not preclude the court from making an adjudication of parentage binding on another individual over whom the court has personal jurisdiction.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1.;

Venue for a proceeding to adjudicate parentage is in the county of this State in which:

(1) The child resides or is found;

(2) The respondent resides or is found if the child does not reside in this State; or

(3) A proceeding for probate or administration of the presumed or alleged father's estate has been commenced.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

(a) Subject to the provisions of subsection (b) of this section and §§ 8-607 and 8-609 of this title, a proceeding under this subchapter may be commenced at any time until the child reaches the age of majority, except as provided in §§ 501(d) and 503 of this title.

(b) A proceeding to adjudicate the parentage of a child having no presumed, acknowledged, adjudicated or adoptive father may be commenced at any time, even after:

(1) The child becomes an adult but only if the child initiates the proceeding; or

(2) An earlier proceeding to adjudicate paternity has been dismissed based upon the application of a statute of limitation then in effect.

(c) In a proceeding under subsection (b) of this section, the court may deny a motion for genetic testing based on principles of estoppel as established in § 8-608 of this title.

(d) This section shall not extend the time within which a right of inheritance or a right to succession may be asserted beyond the time provided by law relating to distribution and closing of decedents' estates, nor to the determination of heirship, or otherwise.

(e) Notwithstanding the 2-year period of limitation recited in this chapter or other affirmative defense, an action for parentage may proceed despite a prior adjudication, acknowledgement or presumption of parentage when shown by clear and convincing evidence to be in the best interest of the particular child, and where the prior adjudication, acknowledgement or presumption of parentage was based on fraud or duress or material mistake of fact.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 77 Del. Laws, c. 456, § 1.;

(a) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b) of this section, a proceeding brought by a presumed father, the mother or another individual to adjudicate the parentage of a child having a presumed father must be commenced not later than 2 years after the birth of the child.

(b) A proceeding seeking to disprove the father-child relationship between a child and the child's presumed father may be maintained at any time if the Court determines that:

(1)a. The presumed father and the mother of the child neither cohabited nor engaged in sexual intercourse with each other during the probable time of conception; and

b. The presumed father never openly held out the child as his own; or

(2) The presumed father did not commence an action within the limitation period in reliance on the mother's failure to disclose the possibility of any other alleged fathers.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 77 Del. Laws, c. 456, §§ 2, 7.;

(a) In a proceeding to adjudicate the parentage of a child having a presumed father or to challenge the paternity of a child having an acknowledged father, the court may deny a motion seeking an order for genetic testing of the mother, the child and the presumed or acknowledged father if the court determines that:

(1) The conduct of the mother or the presumed or acknowledged father estops that party from denying parentage; and

(2) It would be inequitable to disprove the father-child relationship between the child and the presumed or acknowledged father.

(b) In determining whether to deny or to grant a motion seeking an order for genetic testing under this section, the court shall consider the best interest of the child, including the following factors:

(1) The length of time between the proceeding to adjudicate parentage and the time that the presumed or acknowledged father was placed on notice that he might not be the genetic father;

(2) The length of time during which the presumed or acknowledged father has assumed the role of father of the child;

(3) The facts surrounding the presumed or acknowledged father's discovery of his possible nonpaternity;

(4) The nature of the relationship between the child and the presumed or acknowledged father;

(5) The age of the child;

(6) The harm that may result to the child if presumed or acknowledged paternity is successfully disproved;

(7) The nature of the relationship between the child and any alleged father;

(8) The extent to which the passage of time reduces the chances of establishing the paternity of another man and a child-support obligation in favor of the child;

(9) Other factors that may affect the equities arising from the disruption of the father-child relationship between the child and the presumed or acknowledged father or the chance of other harm to the child; and

(10) Whether the child has a medical condition for which an accurate family history is necessary.

(c) In a proceeding involving the application of this section, a minor or incapacitated child must be represented by a guardian ad litem.

(d) Denial of a motion seeking an order for genetic testing must be based on clear and convincing evidence.

(e) If the court denies a motion seeking an order for genetic testing, it shall issue an order adjudicating the presumed or acknowledged father to be the father of the child.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 77 Del. Laws, c. 456, §§ 3, 6.;

(a) If a child has an acknowledged father, a signatory to the acknowledgment of paternity or denial of paternity may commence a proceeding seeking to rescind the acknowledgment or denial or challenge the paternity of the child only within the time allowed under §§ 8-307 or 8-308 of this title.

(b) If a child has an acknowledged father or an adjudicated father, an individual who is neither a signatory to the acknowledgment of paternity nor a party to the adjudication and who seeks an adjudication of paternity of the child must commence a proceeding not later than 2 years after the effective date of the acknowledgment or adjudication.

(c) A proceeding under this section is subject to the application of the principles of estoppel established in § 8-608 of this title.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

(a) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (c) of this section, a determination of parentage may be made in a proceeding for adoption, termination of parental rights, child custody or visitation, child support, divorce, annulment, probate or administration of an estate, or other proceeding in which the parentage or nonparentage of the child is an element of the claim for relief or a defense, and such a determination is binding as provided in § 8-637 of this title. In a proceeding to establish child support, the court is deemed to have made an adjudication of parentage of a child if the court acts under circumstances that satisfy the jurisdictional requirements of § 610 of this title and the final order provides for the support of the child by the man.

(b) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (a) of this section, a proceeding to adjudicate parentage may be joined with a proceeding for adoption, termination of parental rights, child custody or visitation, child support, divorce, annulment, probate or administration of an estate, or other appropriate proceeding.

(c) A respondent may not join a proceeding described in subsection (a) of this section with a proceeding to adjudicate parentage brought under Chapter 6 of this title.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1.;

(a) A proceeding to determine parentage may be commenced before the birth of the child, but may not be concluded until after the birth of the child.

(b) But if a child was conceived through assisted reproduction, an order or judgment may be entered before the birth of the resulting child to establish a parent child relationship, as long as enforcement of the order or judgment shall be stayed until the birth of the child. Such an order shall be sought by filing a petition setting forth the name(s) and address(es) of the intended parent(s), the gestational carrier, if there is one, and her spouse, if there is one, and appending affidavits which:

(1) Attest that the pregnancy resulted through means other than sexual intercourse verified by the participating health care provider;

(2) Acknowledge parentage verified by the parent or parents; and

(3) In cases involving a gestational carrier only,

(i) Acknowledge nonparentage verified by the gestational carrier and her spouse, if there is one; and

(ii) Attest to the gestational carrier agreement signed by all the parties in accordance with § 8-807 of this title.

(c) Except in circumstances outlined in subsection (b) of this section, the following actions may be taken before the birth of any child:

(1) Service of process;

(2) Discovery; and

(3) Except as prohibited by § 8-502 of this title, collection of specimens for genetic testing.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1; 79 Del. Laws, c. 88, § 4.;

(a) A minor child is a permissible party, but is not a necessary party to a proceeding under this subchapter.

(b) The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem to represent a minor or incapacitated child if the child is a party or the court finds that the interests of the child are not adequately represented.

(c) Where all necessary parties to a parentage action agree to genetic testing despite the availability of affirmative defenses, they shall be presumed to be adequately representing the interests of the child subject to the court's consideration of the factors recited in § 8-608(b) of this title.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1; 77 Del. Laws, c. 456, § 4.;

(a) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (c) of this section, a record of a genetic testing expert is admissible as evidence of the truth of the facts asserted in the report unless a party objects to its admission within 14 days after its receipt by the objecting party and cites specific grounds for exclusion. The admissibility of the report is not affected by whether the testing was performed:

(1) Voluntarily or pursuant to an order of the court or a support-enforcement agency; or

(2) Before or after the commencement of the proceeding.

(b) A party objecting to the results of genetic testing may call 1 or more genetic-testing experts to testify in person or by telephone, videoconference, deposition or another method approved by the court. Unless otherwise ordered by the court, the party offering the testimony bears the expense for the expert testifying.

(c) If a child has a presumed, acknowledged or adjudicated father, the results of genetic testing are inadmissible to adjudicate parentage unless performed:

(1) With the consent of both the mother and the presumed, acknowledged or adjudicated father; or

(2) Pursuant to an order of the court under § 8-502 of this title.

(d) Copies of bills for genetic testing and for prenatal and postnatal health care for the mother and child which are furnished to the adverse party not less than 10 days before the date of a hearing are admissible to establish:

(1) The amount of the charges billed; and

(2) That the charges were reasonable, necessary and customary.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

(a) An order for genetic testing is enforceable by contempt.

(b) If an individual whose paternity is being determined declines to submit to genetic testing ordered by the court, the court for that reason may adjudicate parentage contrary to the position of that individual.

(c) Genetic testing of the mother of a child is not a condition precedent to testing the child and a man whose paternity is being determined. If the mother is unavailable or declines to submit to genetic testing, the court may order the testing of the child and every man whose paternity is being adjudicated.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

(a) A respondent in a proceeding to adjudicate parentage or in a proceeding for child support or in any other proceeding in which the parentage of the child is an element of the claim for relief or a defense may admit to the paternity of a child by filing a pleading to that effect or by admitting paternity under penalty of perjury when making an appearance or during a hearing.

(b) If the court finds that the admission of paternity satisfies the requirements of this section and finds that there is no reason to question the admission, the court shall issue an order adjudicating the child to be the child of the man admitting paternity.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

(a) In a proceeding under this subchapter, the court shall issue a temporary order for support of a child if the order is appropriate and the individual ordered to pay support is:

(1) A presumed father of the child;

(2) Petitioning to have his paternity adjudicated;

(3) Identified as the father through genetic testing under § 8-505 of this title;

(4) An alleged father who has declined to submit to genetic testing;

(5) Shown by clear and convincing evidence to be the father of the child; or

(6) The mother of the child.

(b) A temporary order may include provisions for custody and visitation as provided by other law of this State.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

The court shall apply the following rules to adjudicate the paternity of a child:

(1) The paternity of a child having a presumed, acknowledged or adjudicated father may be disproved only by admissible results of genetic testing excluding that man as the father of the child or identifying another man as the father of the child.

(2) Unless the results of genetic testing are admitted to rebut other results of genetic testing, a man identified as the father of a child under § 8-505 of this title must be adjudicated the father of the child.

(3) If the court finds that genetic testing under § 8-505 of this title neither identifies nor excludes a man as the father of a child, the court may not dismiss the proceeding. In that event, the results of genetic testing, and other evidence, are admissible to adjudicate the issue of paternity.

(4) Unless the results of genetic testing are admitted to rebut other results of genetic testing, a man excluded as the father of a child by genetic testing must be adjudicated not to be the father of the child.

(5) Paternity may not be established with regard to an alleged father without the assistance of genetic testing unless the mother of the child swears or affirms on the record or by affidavit, under penalty of perjury, that she did not have sexual intercourse with any other man at or about the time the child was conceived.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 77 Del. Laws, c. 456, § 5.;

The court, without a jury, shall adjudicate paternity of a child.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

A final order in a proceeding under this subchapter is available for public inspection.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1.;

The court shall issue an order adjudicating the paternity of a man who:

(1) After service of process, is in default; and

(2) Is found by the court to be the father of a child.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

The court may issue an order dismissing a proceeding commenced under this subchapter for want of prosecution only without prejudice. An order of dismissal for want of prosecution purportedly with prejudice is void and has only the effect of a dismissal without prejudice.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1.;

(a) The court shall issue an order adjudicating whether a man alleged or claiming to be the father is the parent of the child.

(b) An order adjudicating parentage must identify the child by name and date of birth except an order pursuant to § 8-611(a) of this title and health care providers shall report the person(s) determined by Family Court to be the parent(s) to the Office of Vital Statistics as required by § 3121 of Title 16, Registration of Births.

(c) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (d) of this section, the court may assess filing fees, reasonable attorney's fees, fees for genetic testing, other costs and necessary travel and other reasonable expenses incurred in a proceeding under this subchapter. The court may award attorney's fees, which may be paid directly to the attorney, who may enforce the order in the attorney's own name.

(d) The court may not assess fees, costs or expenses against the support-enforcement agency of this State or another state, except as provided by other law.

(e) On request of a party and for good cause shown, the court may order that the name of the child be changed.

(f) If the order of the court is at variance with the child's birth certificate, the court shall order the Office of Vital Statistics to issue an amended birth registration.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 79 Del. Laws, c. 88, § 5.;

(a) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b) of this section, a determination of parentage is binding on:

(1) All signatories to an acknowledgment or denial of paternity as provided in subchapter III of this chapter;

(2) All parties to an adjudication by a court acting under circumstances that satisfy the jurisdictional requirements of § 6-201 of this title;

(3) The child.

(b) In a proceeding to dissolve a marriage, the court is deemed to have made an adjudication of the parentage of a child if the court acts under circumstances that satisfy the jurisdictional requirements of § 6-201 of this title and the final order:

(1) Expressly identifies a child as a "child of the marriage," "issue of the marriage," or similar words indicating that the husband is the father of the child; or

(2) Provides for support of the child by the husband unless paternity is specifically disclaimed in the order.

(c) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b) of this section, a determination of parentage may be a defense in a subsequent proceeding seeking to adjudicate parentage by an individual who was not a party to the earlier proceeding.

(d) A party to an adjudication of paternity may challenge the adjudication only under law of this State relating to appeal, vacation of judgments or other judicial review.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

If the court determines that an individual is not the parent of a child, the individual shall have no right to reimbursement for any child support or medical expenses paid prior to the date on which the other party or the public agency to which the payments were or are being made was served with notice of the proceeding in which the determination of nonparentage was made.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1.;

A court of this State shall give full faith and credit to a determination of parentage or nonparentage or denial of parentage made by a court or administrative agency of another state if the determination is made in compliance with the law of the other state.

74 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 1.;