Can a paternity case that was heard and dismissed 7 years ago be reopened?

Paternity has already been established through that states courts but now we are being taken back into court for the same issue again, and the child is almost 10 years old and has no idea who this other man is. We live in another state can we be subpoenaed into court?

Asked on September 12, 2012 under Family Law, South Carolina


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you've already been to court once and the court has already determined that who the father of the child is... then you are generally protected by a principle called "res judicata"-- which essentially means "we've done this already and we're done with this issue."   You may also have a second line of defense in that he's not suing you in the state where the child resides.  Generally, paternity suits are required to be filed in the state and county where the child has resided for a number of months.

With that being said, you have some very good defenses.  That doesn't prevent him, though, from filing the suit-- it just means that if he does, you have a way to defend it.  Many people shouldn't file lawsuits, but still file them even when they know they will be poured out.  If he does get you served with papers, then you need to visit with an attorney asap to see if the method of service was proper for your state and the state in which he is fiing.  The attorney may be able to file a special appearance for you to quash the suit before it gets too far along.  You also need to get together your paperwork from before, and if possible, request certified copies of your orders from the prior suit.

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