Fox Family Lawyers
Cynthia Moseley Fox
Attorney at Law
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Suite 700
Clayton, Missouri 63105
(St. Louis)
314.727.4880

Should Twins Found Equally Likely To Be The Father Share The Child Support Costs?

Who’s your daddy? That’s the question Judge Fred Copeland of New Madrid County, Missouri wanted answered as he presided over a paternity case involving a woman who gave birth after having sex with identical twins with the exact same DNA.

 

As recounted here last week, Judge Copeland was hearing a lawsuit brought by the mother, Holly Marie Adams, and the State of Missouri, both of whom wanted the judge to name the poppa so that they could collect child support. Without the benefit of DNA testing, which indicated that each twin had a 99.999% chance of being the father, the judge had to rely on the mother’s testimony to help him sort it out.

 

Unfortunately, she made the judge’s job more difficult. Holly Marie swore initially that she only had sex with one brother, Raymon, during the likely period of conception, before contradicting herself later by testifying she also had relations with the other brother, Richard, during that same period as well, and on the very same day.

 

Evidently choosing to believe what Holly Marie first said about Raymon being the only one, and disregarding the rest, Judge Copeland declared him to be the father, which, not surprisingly, didn’t make Raymon very happy. So, he appealed. And, he lost.

 

I can feel Raymon’s pain. He and Holly had been in a long-term relationship that ended, finally, with one last act of coitus on August 8, 2003, only to learn later that Holly and his twin brother had joined each other in that same bed (presumably) later that day. A positive pregnancy test followed 18 days hence, one indicating that August 8th could well have been the fateful day.

 

Why had the judge picked him and not his brother? The Court of Appeals decision says that the judge has the right to give some testimony more weight than others in making a decision, and even to disregard some testimony completely. So it was Raymon that was left standing when the music stopped.

 

When I first read this case, I thought the outcome less than equitable to Raymon. Weren’t the brothers equally culpable? Unusual facts sometimes give rise to unusual outcomes if justice is to be served. I had hoped that the judge would have declared each of them the father for purposes of assessing financial support responsibilities and then required each to pay 50% of what they would otherwise owe.

 

Knowing my solution to be a little fanciful, I ran it by Judge John Essner, a Family Court judge in St. Louis County since 1999. Without his ever saying so, I believe he thought my idea a bit less than fully baked. As he pointed out, only the actual father can be held liable for child support and my attempt to name both men the father is a ruling that is “scientifically impossible” and would “most certainly be overturned on appeal.”

 

“The judge has an obligation at the end of the day not to ‘bastardize the child’ and find one man to be the father.” Further, the judge didn’t find my concern about equity for Raymon to be compelling either. He said that “the judge’s focus needs to be on the child, making sure that the child’s needs are provided for.”

 

Judge Essner added one other aside. “It’s interesting how in this case, we have two high probability candidates to be the father, but neither wants to step up. Yet, with Anna Nichol’s baby, there were no shortage of men claiming to be dad.”

 

Judge Essner is right on all counts. Judge Copeland had a duty to name someone the father, even with less then perfect evidence, and he went about it the right way. Judge Essner is also right about the irony of this situation vis a vis Anna Nichol’s baby. Daddy candidates are a lot easier to find when the baby is a potential heiress to a billion dollar fortune.