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Orange County Divorce Blog

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Paternity and Wrongful Death

Although Stennett v. Miller was a wrongful death case, it has implications in family law settings where children are born outside of marriage.

The parents of the minor child in this case were never married. The father did not want his family to know that he had a daughter outside of marriage, and the mother did not pursue a paternity action establishing that he was the father. The father passed away while the child was a minor, and the mother filed a wrongful death action on behalf of their minor child. The action was filed against the Millers, who were driving the other car during the accident.

The Millers challenged the wrongful death proceeding stating that the minor child did not have standing to file a wrongful death action, because the father never held the minor child out as his own. Therefore, under current law, she was prevented from establishing paternity after the father passed away. The trial court agreed with the Millers and dismissed the case. The mother filed an appeal on behalf of her daughter.

The appellate court upheld the dismissal. It found that the definition of child in the code prohibited a child from establishing paternity after the death of the parent if that parent never held the child as his own.

If you need legal advice and are looking for a family law lawyer in Orange County to address paternity or a divorce matter such as legal separation, annulment, custody, child support, spousal support or property division, please consider Treviño Law in your divorce attorney search. We are located in Laguna Hills right off Lake Forest exit to both the 405 and 5 freeway.

Although the posting of this information can be considered free legal advice for a divorce in Orange County, it does not address other factors which may play a significant role in a particular dissolution. Circumstances in your divorce may alter the results in your dissolution.

Please note that this legal advice does not establish a family law attorney-client relationship. This is a legal advertisement for Treviño Law, Inc.