It’s official:  If you’ve had a child out of wedlock, and then you decide to marry your better half, any and all support provisions or child custody arrangements you guys made back then for the future will now become null and void.  Got that?

The case is Irmo Wilson & Bodine (2012), and it involved a Mother and Father who had a child before wedlock.  Mother would soon file a petition to establish a parental relationship and obtain custody and child support orders based on both parties’ voluntary declaration of paternity.  Later, Mother and Father married, but separated two years later.  Mother filed a petition for dissolution and the family court litigation began for real, ultimately leading to this appeal.

In reaching its decision in this case, the California Appellate Court reasoned that paternity actions are akin to divorce actions in so much that they both involve a determination of the separate rights and liabilities of parents for their children.

The marriage or remarriage by those parents automatically creates joint rights and liabilities for custody and support of the child and extinguishes any preexisting order of child support entered for the child’s benefit.  Upon the termination of the marriage or a second marriage between parents, custody and support issues will be visited anew.

In its wisdom the court concluded, “The dissolution legal proceedings have built-in protections for the best interest of the child…  Thus, the child will not be harmed by the fact that an earlier child support order was terminated upon the marriage or remarriage of the parents.”

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