Pope v. Fountain (Mississippi 2019)

No. 2017-CA-01060-COA (Miss. Ct. App. 2019)
December 2019

In a paternity proceeding, all necessary parties must be joined. The child who was the subject of this case had a presumed and biological father. The biological father filed to establish paternity, and the mother responded. The presumptive father was not joined as a party to the action even though he was ordered to pay support for the child and granted visitation in a divorce decree. The chancery court entered an order establishing the biological father’s paternity, granting visitation, and ordering support. The mother appealed, arguing the presumptive father should have been joined as a party. The appellate court agreed, noting the risk of conflicting orders. It found that the presumptive father qualified as a necessary party and should have been joined. The appellate court acknowledged that the outcome on remind might be the same, but a failure to join necessary parties violates due process principles.