In the course of the dissolution of the Coopers' marriage, Charles Cooper contested the paternity of the child born during the Coopers' marriage. Charles appeals the denial of his motion for blood group testing to establish non-paternity. Charles raises two issues for our review which we consolidate and restate as follows:
We reverse and remand for the relief requested.
On July 7, 1984, Charles Cooper married Michelle Davidson, and on August 28, 1984, Michelle gave birth to a child. Initially, Michelle told Charles that she was a virgin when she met him, but several times after the wedding, Michelle told Charles he was not the child's father. On April 9, 1991, Michelle filed a petition for dissolution of marriage alleging one child had been born during the marriage. On May 2, 1991, Charles filed a cross petition for dissolution alleging no children were born as a result of the marriage.
Charles made a motion for court ordered blood group testing, but on September 10, 1991, after a hearing, the motion was denied.
A child born during a marriage is presumed legitimate. West's A.I.C. 31-6-6.1-9(a)(1) (Supp. 1992), and Fairrow v. Fairrow (1990), Ind., 559 N.E.2d 597, 600. In a divorce proceeding, silence and this presumption will establish paternity. The presumption may be rebutted by direct, clear, and convincing evidence that the husband:
Murdock v. Murdock (1985), Ind. App., 480 N.E.2d 243, 245, n. 6, reh. denied (additional citation omitted). Because Charles had premarital sexual relations with Michelle and she refuses to voluntarily agree to the blood group testing, Charles' only means to prove his non-paternity is through court ordered blood group testing.
Michelle's petition for dissolution asserted a paternity claim against Charles. To prevent paternity from being established by silence, Charles correctly denied paternity in his cross-petition. Charles has two mechanisms to obtain blood group test results: West's A.I.C. 31-6-6.1-8 (Supp. 1992) and Ind. Trial Rule 35(A).
Prior to addressing the blood group testing under IC 31-6-6.1-8, the issue of whether the Coopers have standing and the statute of limitations under Indiana's paternity statute must be addressed. Because "[a] paternity action may be filed by ... the mother" of the child, Michelle has standing to assert the paternity action. West's A.I.C. 31-6-6.1-2(a) (Supp. 1992). I.C. 31-6-6.1-2(c) also provides that "[i]n every [paternity] case, the child, the child's mother, and any person alleged to be the father are necessary parties to the action." The child and Charles are necessary parties to Michelle's paternity action.
Because the Coopers are proper parties and the paternity claim was timely asserted, IC 31-6-6.1-8(a) requires "[u]pon the motion of any party, the court shall order all of the parties to the action to undergo blood testing... ." (Emphasis added). The use of the word "shall" indicates that the trial court has no discretion in deciding to order the tests. Murdock, supra, at 244. In the present case, the trial court should have granted Charles' motion for blood group testing.
The second mechanism available to Charles to obtain blood group testing is T.R. 35(A) which provides in relevant part:
The trial court has broad discretion in ruling upon discovery matters and this Court will interfere with those rulings only upon a showing of an abuse of discretion. Beird v. Figg & Muller Engineers, Inc. (1987), Ind. App., 516 N.E.2d 1114, reh. denied. An abuse of discretion will not be found unless the decision is clearly against the logic and effect of the facts and circumstances before the court. K.B. v. S.B. (1981), Ind. App., 415 N.E.2d 749, 755.
The discovery requested was relevant to the paternity issue raised in the divorce action and was related to Charles' defense of the paternity claim. See T.R. 26(B)(1). Here, the trial court's denial of this discovery is clearly against the logic and effect of the facts and circumstances before the court. Charles complied with the "in controversy" and "good cause" requirements of T.R. 35(A). The nature of the paternity issue, as well as the complaint and cross complaint, clearly shows the existence of a controversy concerning the child's paternity.
Charles showed good cause for the blood group testing based on Michelle's statements that Charles was not the child's father. Under the facts presented, court ordered testing provides Charles' sole defense to the paternity action. The trial court erroneously converted the "good cause" of T.R. 35(A) into a clear and convincing evidence requirement. Charles need only show good cause for the trial court to order an examination under T.R. 35(A). Clear and convincing evidence is required to rebut the presumption of legitimacy.
Recent public policy considerations espoused by our supreme court in other paternity actions enhance Charles' showing of "good cause" for the blood group testing. Fairrow, supra, at 600, declared the public policy disfavoring a support order against a man who is not the child's father. In re the Paternity of S.R.I. (1992), Ind., 602 N.E.2d 1014,
We reverse and remand for the relief requested.
HOFFMAN, J., concurs in result and files separate opinion.
GARRARD, J., concurs.
HOFFMAN, Judge, concurring in result.
I concur in the result. However, I do not agree that Charles, or any party to a dissolution, must meet a statute of limitations requirement to invoke Ind. Trial Rule 35(A) for blood group testing to assist in establishing paternity. Further, I do not agree that a party's request for such testing is a matter of discretion for the trial court based upon a showing of good cause. T.R. 35(A), read in conjunction with In re the Paternity of S.R.I. (1992), Ind., 602 N.E.2d 1014, establishes clear public policy in favor of such testing when the question of paternity arises. The court in S.R.I. stated:
Id. at 1016.
Accordingly, when the issue of paternity is first raised in a dissolution proceeding, where silence will presumptively establish paternity, the party contesting paternity should be entitled to blood group testing. Consideration for the child and family relationships requires that such matters be decided with finality at the earliest possible opportunity.