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Lehr v. Robertson

United States Supreme Court
463 U.S. 248 (1983)



Prior to marrying Richard Robertson (plaintiff), Lorraine Robertson (plaintiff) had a child, Jessica, with Jonathan Lehr (defendant). When Jessica was over two years old, the Robertsons filed a petition for adoption so that Richard could be named as Jessica’s lawful father. Without knowledge of the adoption proceeding, Lehr filed a visitation-and-paternity petition in the family court in a different city. New York had a putative-father registry that Lehr could be listed on by mailing a postcard to the appropriate address. However, Lehr did not to do so. The trial court approved Richard’s adoption of Jessica. Lorraine moved to dismiss Lehr’s paternity action, claiming that the action was moot in light of the adoption order. The family court agreed and dismissed Lehr’s action. Lehr filed a motion to vacate the adoption order on the ground that the order was obtained by fraud and violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The trial court denied Lehr’s motion, holding that Lehr’s commencement of a paternity action did not give Lehr the right to receive notice of the adoption proceeding and that New York’s statutory-notice provisions were constitutional. Lehr appealed. The appellate division and the Court of Appeals of New York affirmed the judgment of the trial court. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Stevens, J.)

Dissent (White, J.)

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