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Law School Case Brief

Chatterjee v. King - 2012-NMSC-019, 280 P.3d 283

Rule:

A presumption of parentage under the state's Uniform Parentage Act instructed courts to extend the presumption that a man was a natural parent to include women in a long-term domestic relationship.

Facts:

Petitioner and respondent, two unmarried women, were in a long-term domestic relationships when respondent adopted a child. Petitioner supported the child financially supported and co-parented the child for years until the parties dissolved their relationship. The state supreme court of New Mexico held that petitioner had standing to pursue joint custody of the child. The plain language of the state's Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) instructed courts to apply, which specified criteria for establishing a presumption that a man was a natural parent, to women. Commentary by the drafters of the UPA supported application of the provisions related to determining paternity to the determination of maternity. This holding was supported by New Mexico's public policy to encourage the support of children.

Issue:

Did the presumption of paternity extend to a presumption of maternity?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court held that petitioner had standing to pursue joint custody of the child. The plain language of the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA), N.M. Stat. Ann. §§ 40-11-1 to 40-11-23 (1986, as amended through 2004), instructed courts to apply N.M. Stat. Ann. § 40-11-5(A)(4), which specified criteria for establishing a presumption that a man was a natural parent, to women. Commentary by the drafters of the UPA supported application of the provisions related to determining paternity to the determination of maternity. This holding was supported by New Mexico's public policy to encourage the support of children.

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