Thursday, August 8, 2013

Default Divorce Decree ≠ Adjudication of Paternity and If Set Aside Also Sets Aside Paternity Finding

Reller v. Reller, Intervenor Argenziano, 2012 UT App 323, Utah Court of Appeals, November 16, 2012

Argenziano fathered Wife’s child.  Wife divorced Husband by default decree in which Wife alleged that Husband was the father.  Nine months after the default decree was entered, Husband filed a Petition to Modify.  Wife responded, and for the first time alleged that Husband was not the father of the minor child.   

The parties stipulated to set aside the Decree in regards to the minor child and Wife moved to join Argenziano.  Argenziano intervened and moved to dismiss the order setting aside alleging that Husband had already been adjudicated as the father.  The Court denied the motion and ordered Argenziano to undergo genetic testing.  Argenziano was shown to be the, Father.  Argenziano appealed arguing that because Husband had already been adjudicated Father, the parties could not now challenge the adjudication. See U.C.A. §78B-15-607(1)(a).

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court decision and agreed that a default decree once set aside is not an adjudication.  They further found that because Argenziano was not a party in the Divorce , he has no standing to challenge the setting aside of the Decree because he was not a party to the action. 


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