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I'm filling out a paternity affidavit right now. The instructions say,

The parents of this child or anyone related to the parents cannot be witnesses to any of these affidavits.

This cannot be interpreted literally, as all human beings are distantly related to each other. Surely in order to claim paternity of my child I do not have to rustle up two extraterrestrials (or an extraterrestrial notary public). Even if it is taken to mean "provably related to," that seems problematic. Birth records go back a long way, and I've certainly met people and only later coincidentally learned that they were my fifth or sixth cousin; it would be unreasonable if I used a notary who happened to be my fifth cousin and that fact could later be used to invalidate my paternity.

How closely-related to me or my partner does someone have to be in order to be considered "related to" us for this sort of purpose? (I'm in the United States — Missouri, to be precise.)

  • In general phrases don't necessarily have set 'legal meanings'. Courts interpret them in context. Your question is specific to the paternity affidavit. – bdsl Sep 20 '15 at 23:41
  • Also instructions on forms are not laws. You might be able to find out what law the instruction is based on and look for more detail there or in interpretations of that law. – bdsl Sep 20 '15 at 23:42
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My interpretation would be:

As related to the parents...

  • Immediate family (e.g., brothers, sisters, etc.)
  • First and second cousins, aunts and uncles
  • Any direct ancestors (i.e., parents, grand-parents, great-grandparents, etc.)
  • Any direct decendants (i.e., children, grandchildren, etc.)
  • Any extended family members who have a close emotional relationship or frequent day-to-day interactions.

Unfortunately, the vagueness of the requirement leaves the interpretation subjective — as you have noted. The interpretation of this requirement might be the reasonable person standard — i.e., what a reasonable person would consider related to to mean. However, IMHO, any future challenge would have a higher likelihood of success if any of the above family members were used as witnesses.

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney. So don't follow my advice. Hire a real attorney if you need one.

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