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R.F. v. M.M.

October 19, 2010

R.F., INDIVIDUALLY AND AS PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF E.F., DECEASED, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLEE
v.
M.M. AND R.J.M., A MINOR CHILD, BY AND THROUGH HER GUARDIAN, M.M.,
DEFENDANTS
M.M., APPELLANT



Appeal from the District Court of Cass County, East Central Judicial District, the Honorable Douglas R. Herman, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandstrom, Justice

AFFIRMED.

[¶1] M.M., the mother, appeals from a judgment declaring E.F. the father of the child, R.J.M., and awarding grandparent visitation to R.F. We hold R.F. had standing to bring the paternity action and the court's decision to award grandparent visitation is not clearly erroneous. We affirm the judgment.

I.

[¶2] A child, R.J.M., was born in early 2008. The mother and E.F. were never married, but had a sexual relationship before the child was born. E.F. died a few months after the child was born. The mother lived in North Dakota at the time of the child's birth, but she moved to South Carolina in December 2009. After the child's birth the mother started a new dating relationship and plans to marry M.C. R.F. is E.F.'s father, and he lives in Illinois.

[¶3] In March 2009, R.F. filed a paternity action on E.F.'s behalf and requested grandparent visitation. The mother moved to dismiss R.F.'s complaint, arguing he did not have standing to bring the paternity action. The district court denied the mother's motion, concluding R.F. had standing to pursue the paternity action as an alleged grandparent under the Uniform Parentage Act. The mother requested the court clarify its order denying her motion. R.F. moved to amend the complaint under N.D.R.Civ.P. 15 to further specify and distinguish the actions and parties involved in the suit. The court granted the motion to amend the complaint under N.D.R.Civ.P. 15 and 17(a). The complaint was amended, clarifying R.F. brought the suit individually and as a personal representative of E.F.'s estate. After a hearing on R.F.'s motion, E.F. was adjudicated the child's father, and the court granted R.F. visitation with the child.

[¶4] The district court had jurisdiction under N.D. Const. art. VI, § 8, and N.D.C.C. § 27-05-06. The appeal is timely under N.D.R.App.P. 4(a). This Court has jurisdiction under N.D. Const. art. VI, §§ 2 and 6, and N.D.C.C. § 28-27-01.

II.

[¶5] The mother argues the district court erred in denying her motion to dismiss because R.F. did not have standing to bring a paternity action under N.D.C.C. § 14-20-37.

[¶6] Section 14-20-37, N.D.C.C., provides a list of those who have standing to maintain a proceeding to adjudicate parentage:

1. The child;

2. The mother of the child;

3. A man whose paternity of the child is to be adjudicated;

4. The support enforcement agency;

5. An authorized adoption agency or licensed ...


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