Is Divorce Decree Evidence of Biological Parent Identity ?
The Texas Supreme Court faced the opportunity to address the issue of whether a finding in a divorce decree that a husband and wife were the parents of certain children barred a later action by the children to establish that someone else was their biological father in Dreyer v. Greene, 871 S.W.2d 697 (Tex. 1993).
In Dreyer, K Dreyer alleged in her divorce petition that she and T Dreyer were the parents of three children. Id.
After T did not respond, the trial court entered a default judgment against him. Id.
The children were not represented by a guardian ad litem. Id.
In its final divorce decree, the court found that K and T were the children's parents.
Less than two months after an order requiring T to pay child support was signed, K initiated a proceeding to establish that X was the father of her twin boys. Id. at 698.
The trial court granted X's motion to dismiss on the grounds that the action was barred by section 13.44 of the Texas Family Code. Id.
On appeal, K argued that the trial court's finding that T was the father of the children did not necessarily mean that he was their biological father. Id.
However, the Supreme Court rejected her argument and concluded that the trial court's findings did constitute an adjudication declaring T to be the boys' biological father.
Therefore the subsequent suit alleging paternity was barred. Id.
In reaching its conclusion, the court reasoned that "it is implausible that the trial court would have chosen the word parents to refer, without qualification or explanation, to both the biological relationship between the wife and the children and some other relationship involving the husband."