The latest chapter in perhaps one of the strangest paternity disputes in recent California history comes with the arrest of Robert Powell in San Diego County over Thanksgiving weekend. The arrest, in one sense, gave Powell an opportunity to insert himself into the recent paternity dispute involving pop signer Justin Bieber. Mariah Yeater, a 20 year-old Lakeside resident, publicly claimed that Bieber is the father of her child. Powell now claims that he is the father, and that Yeater lied about the child's paternity for money.
Bieber has steadfastly denied not only being the child's father, but even knowing Yeater at all. Yeater filed a lawsuit claiming Bieber is the father of her child a few months ago, but withdrew it without prejudice in November. She alleges that she had a sexual encounter with Bieber backstage at Los Angeles' Staples Center after a concert last fall. Yeater says she had just turned 19 years old at the time. Bieber would have been 16 years old. The child was born in July 2011.
Yeater did not produce any evidence to substantiate any of her claims, but Bieber submitted to a paternity test. She dismissed the suit while results were still pending. Yeater cited the media frenzy surrounding her claims, which includes death threats from Bieber fans, led to her decision to withdraw her petition. Her lawyer stated that he expects both sides will sign confidentiality agreements regarding the paternity test. Since she dismissed her suit without prejudice, she is free to re-file it at any time.
Yeater's paternity claims have mostly met with ridicule and disdain, but it appears Bieber has followed the standard legal procedure. If Yeater was unmarried when the child was conceived and born, the law makes no presumption as to the father's identity. She may allege the father's identity, or someone claiming to be the father may come forward. A child's paternity, if in dispute, is generally established through a paternity test, which compares DNA samples from the child and the alleged father. A father may also sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, or whatever equivalent form is used in his state, which he then files with a state registry. In this case, Powell may request his own paternity test. Once paternity is legally established, questions of child custody and child support come to the fore.