PR 01115.056 Wyoming

A. PR 08-115 Relationship of a child to a NH in the State of Wyoming II - Jason J~

DATE: May 22, 2008

1. SYLLABUS

Wyoming courts will give "full faith and credit" to an acknowledgement of paternity filed in another State. In this case an acknowledgment of paternity filed in Utah by another man is enough to preclude the finding of a parent-child relationship between the claimant and our NH, since the acknowledgement has not been rescinded or challenged in court.

2. OPINION

Issue

Whether Wyoming law recognizes Christopher B. B~ (the claimant) as the child of Jason J~, the number holder (NH), for the purpose of intestate succession, in light of the fact that another man, Bryan B~, signed an acknowledgement of paternity.[1]

Short Answer

The evidence before the Agency does not establish a father-child relationship between the claimant and the NH under the Wyoming Uniform Parentage Act; therefore, the claimant cannot inherit from the NH and cannot receive child insurance benefits under the Social Security Act (Act).

Facts

According to information you have provided, the claimant was born in Utah on February 19, 1990. One day later, Bryan B~ signed an "Acknowledgement of Paternity" and filed the acknowledgment with the State of Utah. He is listed as the father on the claimant's birth certificate. The claimant believed that Bryan B~ was his father until his seventeenth birthday. On that day, the NH's mother informed the claimant that the NH was his father. The claimant's mother subsequently admitted that the claimant's father was the NH, not Bryan B~. The NH died on May 12, 1998. At the time of his death, the NH lived in the State of Wyoming.

The evidence before the Agency consists of the following: a copy of the claimant's birth certificate, which lists Bryan B~ as his father; an acknowledgement of paternity signed by both the claimant's mother and Bryan B~; a report of contact during which the claimant stated that the NH's mother told the claimant that the NH was his father and that the claimant's mother has allegedly admitted that the NH is the claimant's father; a picture of the claimant, as an infant, with the NH; a letter written by NH that asked about the claimant; and the results of Y-chromosome STR testing of the claimant and the NH's father, which revealed the two share a common male lineage.

Legal Analysis

Whether the claimant is entitled to child's insurance benefits on the NH's earnings record depends upon whether he can be considered the NH's "child" under the Act. As relevant here, the Act provides that, in determining whether an applicant is the child of the deceased wage earner, the Commissioner shall apply the law that determines devolution of intestate personal property in the wage earner's state of domicile at death. 42 U.S.C. § 416(h)(2)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.355(b)(4); Program Operations Manual System (POMS) GN 00306.001(C)(2)(a). In this case, the NH lived in Wyoming when he died; therefore, Wyoming intestacy law applies. See 42 U.S.C. § 416(h)(2)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.355; POMS GN 0306.001(C)(1)(a).

The relevant Wyoming rule of intestate succession provides that the estate of any intestate without a husband or wife shall descend and be distributed to his children surviving and the descendants of his children who are dead. . . . Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 2-4-101(c)(i). Wyoming probate code provides that for purposes of intestate succession, a person born out of wedlock is a child of the father, if the relationship of parent and child has been established under the Uniform Parentage Act. Id. §§ 2-4-107(a)(iii).

The Wyoming Uniform Parentage Act, see id. § 14-2-401 to 907, provides that

[t]he father-child relationship is established between a man and a child by:

(i) An unrebutted presumption of the man's paternity of the child under W.S. § 14-2-504 [Presumption of paternity in context of marriage];

POMS GN 00306.680.E.

(ii) An effective acknowledgment of paternity by the man under article 6 of this act, unless the acknowledgment has been rescinded or successfully challenged; [2]

(iii) An adjudication of the man's paternity;

(iv) Adoption of the child by the man; or

(v) The man's having consented to assisted reproduction by his wife under article 8 of this act which resulted in the birth of the child.

Id. § 14-2-501(b).

In this case, the only applicable provision of the Wyoming Uniform Parentage Act is § 14-2-501(b)(ii) - whether there is an effective acknowledgment of paternity by the NH or Bryan B~, which has not been rescinded or challenged in court.

As noted above, the claimant was born in the State of Utah and the day after his birth,

Bryan B~ signed and filed an acknowledgement of paternity in Utah. Bryan B~ is the claimant's declarant father under Utah Code Ann. § 78-45g-201 2(b) (2005), which provides that a father-child relationship is established between a man and a child by an effective declaration of paternity by the man unless the declaration has been rescinded or successfully challenged. See Utah Code Ann. § 78-45g-301 (2005) (a man claiming to be the genetic father of the child may sign a declaration of paternity to establish the paternity of the child); id. § 78-45g-302 (2005) (execution of declaration of paternity). There is no evidence the declaration of paternity has been rescinded or challenged in court; therefore, it remains effective in the State of Utah. Id. § 78-45g-306 (2005).

The Wyoming Uniform Parentage Act provides that a Wyoming court will give full faith and credit to an acknowledgement of paternity effective in another state, if the acknowledgement has been signed and is otherwise in compliance with the law of the state. Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 14-2-611. Because Bryan B~ signed his declaration of paternity (which has not been rescinded or successfully challenged in court) in accordance with Utah law, the State of Wyoming considers him as the claimant's father.

Conclusion

The evidence before the Agency does not establish a father-child relationship between the claimant and the NH under Wyoming law. Under Wyoming law a father-child relationship exists between Bryan B~ and the claimant, due to an effective acknowledgment of paternity. Therefore, the claimant cannot inherit from the NH and cannot receive child insurance benefits under the Act.

2 The POMS provide that effective 07/01/2000, a man is considered (but not presumed) to be the natural father of a child born in Wyoming if, with the consent of the mother, he has acknowledged his paternity by signing an affidavit of paternity and an acknowledgment of the privileges and obligations associated with parentage and filed these documents with the Wyoming office of vital records. The required contents of the mother's consent and the father's affidavit are essentially the same as those stated in B.5. POMS GN 00306.680.E.

Sincerely yours,

Deana R. E~-L~
Acting Regional Chief Counsel

By:________________________
Stephanie F. K~
Assistant Regional Counsel

B. PR 04-054 Entitlement of child after termination of parental rights NH-John N~, SSN ~ (Your reference number S2D8B52:DS)

DATE: December 29, 2003

1. SYLLABUS

Under Wyoming law, an order terminating the parent-child legal relationship does not affect the right of the child to inherit from the parent.

2. OPINION

Questions Presented

You have requested an opinion on whether John N~ child, Gypsy F. N~, was still eligible for surviving child's benefits on his record, despite the termination of his parental rights.

Facts

Gypsy F. N~ was born on December 5, 1994 to Christine N~ and John E. N~, the number holder (NH). The parents were divorced on May 21, 1997, and Christine remarried on July 2, 1999. The NH and Christine petitioned for voluntary termination of Mr. N~ parental rights in April 2000. On April 3, 2000, a judge in the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court of South Dakota signed an order terminating Mr. N~ parental rights. Mr. N~ died on October 1, 2002, while domiciled in Wyoming. On December 6, 2002, Christine's husband adopted Gypsy.

Discussion

The Social Security Act (Act) provides for the payment of child's insurance benefits (CIB) to certain children of individuals who are entitled to old-age or disability insurance benefits or who died fully or currently insured. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350-404.368 (2003). Section 216 of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 416(h)(2)(A), provides that [i]n determining whether an applicant is the child or parent of a fully or currently insured individual for purposes of this subchapter, the Commissioner of Social Security shall apply such law as would be applied in determining the devolution of intestate personal property by the courts of the State in which such insured individual is domiciled at the time such applicant filed application, or, if such insured individual is dead, by the courts of the State in which he was domiciled at the time of his death . . . .

Thus, Gypsy's entitlement to CIB depends on whether she could inherit John N~ money, property, or other assets as his child according to the intestacy laws of Wyoming, the State in which he was domiciled at the time of his death.

Wyoming State law governing termination of parental rights and the right to inherit is clear and explicit. Wyo. Stat. § 14-2-317(a)(ii) (2003) states that "an order terminating the parent-child legal relationship divests the parent of all legal rights and privileges . . . except . . . [t]he right of the child to inherit from the parent shall not be affected by the order." (Emphasis added.)

Conclusion

Thus, we conclude that the termination of Mr. N~ parental rights did not end Gypsy's right to inherit from him, and Gypsy may still be entitled to CIB on his wage earnings.

Sincerely yours,

Yvette G. K~
Acting Regional Chief Counsel

By:________________________
Laura R~l-B~
Assistant Regional Counsel


Footnotes:

[1]

On January 2, 2008, we returned the original opinion request to you and requested the following additional information: evidence that Bryan B~ and the claimant’s mother were married and, if so, the dates of the marriage; or evidence that Byran B~ signed and executed a declaration of paternity and the date; or evidence that a court adjudicated him to be the claimant’s father and the date.

[2]

The POMS provide that effective 07/01/2000, a man is considered (but not presumed) to be the natural father of a child born in Wyoming if, with the consent of the mother, he has acknowledged his paternity by signing an affidavit of paternity and an acknowledgment of the privileges and obligations associated with parentage and filed these documents with the Wyoming office of vital records. The required contents of the mother's consent and the father's affidavit are essentially the same as those stated in B.5.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/1501115056
PR 01115.056 - Wyoming - 07/10/2008
Batch run: 11/29/2012
Rev:07/10/2008