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Delegate to foreign fathers: ‘Mais non’

It was a love affair in France. Cue the accordion and get out your beret.

A woman from Northern Virginia met a man while visiting Giverny and fell in love. He was a filmmaker.

After her last visit she learned she was pregnant.

She told him and returned to the states; he visited her and their daughter in Fairfax when the child was 7 months old. Then he stopped calling and drifted into memory.

When the girl was 12, she was watching a TV documentary that included pictures of a guy who looked familiar – the man from her mom’s photo album. Her father.

The mother tracked the man down and sued him for child support. But in Bergaust v. Flaherty the Court of Appeals said non, we don’t have jurisdiction, even though he has acknowledged he was the father. The child was not “conceived or fathered” in the commonwealth, to cite the language of the statute, Code § 8.01-328.1.

Enter Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria. She has filed a bill that won’t allow fathers like the French filmmaker to get off the hook any more.

House Bill 1094 provides jurisdiction when a someone “shown by personal conduct in this Commonwealth, as alleged by affidavit, that the person acknowledged parentage of a child, orally or in writing, in this Commonwealth.”

In other words, if you say, yes, the child is mine, or do anything that shows parenthood, you are subject to jurisdiction in Virginia.

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