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Prob. Code, § 6453, subd. (b)(2), requires an affirmative representation of paternity that is unconcealed and made in open view. But although the representation must be a public one, in the sense of being made in open view, the statute does not require an announcement to the world, an official action, or an affectionate fatherly intent. Each case depends upon its own circumstances as to whether an affirmative representation was unconcealed and made in open view. While it is not required in order to constitute public acknowledgment that the father declare his paternity under all circumstances, it would be opposed to the idea of public acknowledgment if he deliberately refrained from declaring his paternity when the occasion would naturally demand it; or misrepresented the fact, or remained silent when he would reasonably be expected to announce he was the father of the child, as, for instance, in the case of immediate relatives. Nor does a person publicly acknowledge a child by revealing the child's existence to persons who are not likely to make public what the decedent had said to them on such a subject, but rather to accept it as a matter of confidence, to be kept secret.
Amine Britel died intestate in 2011. Appellant Jackie S., the mother of A.S., a child born out of wedlock, petitioned to administer Amine's estate and for A.S. to be declared Amine's heir under Probate Code section 6453, subdivision (b)(2) (section 6453(b)(2)). Under section 6453(b)(2), a nonmarital child may establish that he or she is the natural child of an intestate decedent by proving the decedent “openly held out the child as his own.” The court denied appellant’s petitions, and granted the petition of Amine’s adult sister to administer the decedent’s estate, which listed Amine’s mother as Amine’s surviving parent.
Under the circumstances, should A.S. have been declared as the heir of the intestate decedent?
The Court of Appeal affirmed the order. The court held that Prob. Code, § 6453, subd. (b)(2)'s phrase “openly held out” required the alleged father to have made an unconcealed affirmative representation of his paternity in open view. But although the representation must be a public one, in the sense of being made in open view, the statute did not require an announcement to the world, an official action, or an affectionate fatherly intent. Each case depends upon its own circumstances as to whether an affirmative representation was unconcealed and made in open view. In the absence of a court decree or enforceable contract, a decedent's estate was not generally liable for the support of a minor. Substantial evidence supported the trial court's finding that the decedent did not openly hold out the child as his child. There was no evidence that, after the child's birth, the decedent acknowledged paternity in any way.