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Name: In re Mary G.
Case #: D049027
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 05/24/2007

Father’s acknowledgment of paternity in Michigan entitled him to presumed father status and therefore reunification services in California. The parents appealed an order terminating their parental rights over the minor. Father had been denied status as a presumed father on the sole ground that he made his voluntary acknowledgment of paternity in Michigan. Father contended that the court violated his constitutional rights to equal protection and full faith and credit principles by not recognizing him as a presumed father entitled to services based on a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity merely because it was made in Michigan and not California. The appellate court agreed and reversed the judgment as to both parents. The disparate treatment was based solely on geography. The location of the father bears no more relations to the purposes of the presumed father statute than differing locations of fathers within California. Since there was no reason for the disparate treatment, father’s right to equal protection of the laws was violated. Further, regardless of the lack of a presumed father category in Michigan, the state’s paternity acknowledgment is entitled to full faith and credit in California. ICWA notice defects also constituted reversible error.