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In re Michael J.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

January 31, 2018

In re MICHAEL J.

          Session January 9, 2018

         Appeal from the Juvenile Court for Rutherford County No. 10726C Donna Scott Davenport, Judge

         Putative father appeals the juvenile court's adjudication of parentage, arguing that the court erred in considering a paternity test report previously entered as an exhibit in proceedings before a magistrate. Although the court erred in taking judicial notice of the report, we conclude the error was harmless. We also conclude that the preponderance of the evidence supports the court's paternity determination. Thus, we affirm.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Juvenile Court Affirmed

          Casey A. Long, Franklin, Tennessee (on appeal), for the appellant, Michael J.

          Terry R. Clayton, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Alicia B.

          W. Neal McBrayer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which D. Michael Swiney, C.J., and Richard H. Dinkins, J., joined.

          OPINION

          W. NEAL McBRAYER, JUDGE

         I.

         Alicia B. ("Mother") and Michael J. had a romantic relationship in 2012. After Mother became pregnant, she informed Michael J. that he was the father. He demanded proof. And immediately after the child's birth, he took both Mother and child to a genetic testing center for a paternity test. But the test results were compromised.

         Undaunted, Michael J. purchased a DNA testing kit from Walgreens, personally collected new DNA samples, and mailed them to the indicated lab. After he received the Walgreens test report, he told Mother that the test showed a 99.9% probability that he was the child's biological father. Even so, he refused to voluntarily acknowledge paternity because he viewed the Walgreens test as "unofficial."

         On January 3, 2014, the State of Tennessee, on behalf of Mother, filed a petition to establish parentage in the Juvenile Court for Rutherford County, Tennessee. At Michael J.'s request, the juvenile court magistrate ordered the parties and the child to submit to another paternity test. The court-ordered paternity test, conducted by Laboratory Corporation of America ("LabCorp"), also revealed a 99.9% statistical probability of paternity.

         After a hearing on August 14, 2014, the magistrate issued a preliminary order declaring Michael J. to be the child's biological father and ordering him to pay $397 in monthly child support. On February 6, 2015, the magistrate issued a final order, which increased the amount of child support awarded and granted Mother a judgment for birth-related expenses.

         Michael J. requested a rehearing before the juvenile court.[1] The juvenile court hearing spanned three separate days. The first day focused on the issue ...


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