Hermesmann v. Seyer

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Hermesmann v. Seyer (State of Kansas ex rel. Hermesmann v. Seyer, 847 P.2d 1273 (Kan. 1993)) was a precedent-setting Kansas, United States, case in which Colleen Hermesmann successfully argued that a woman is entitled to sue the father of her child for child support even if conception occurred as a result of a criminal act committed by the woman. The case was brought in her name by the then Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.


In 1993, the Kansas Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Seyer that he was not liable to pay for child support. The court held that the admitted facts established that, because being under 16 he had been legally unable to consent to sex, a crime against him had been committed under statutory rape law, but that Seyer had actually given consent to the acts under civil law. The court ruled that "at no time did Shane register any complaint to his parents about the sexual liaison with Colleen". The court also ruled that a mother's potential culpability under criminal statutes was of no relevance in determining the father's child support liability in a civil action. The court stated:

"The State's interest in requiring minor parents to support their children overrides the State's competing interest in protecting juveniles from improvident acts, even when such acts may include criminal activity on the part of the other parent."


The case established a precedent which has subsequently been used in the Kansas courts. It is one of the earlier cases now cited in U.S. child-support guidelines which say that in every case that has addressed the issue the court has decided that an underage boy is liable for the support of his child even when the conception was the result of criminal conduct by the mother.

In a 1997 case before the Florida District Court of Appeal, the court's decision cited Hermesmann, saying that the Kansas decision was taken even though the Kansas statute states:

"a person under 15 years of age is incapable of consent as a matter of law."

The court also remarked that:

"the Kansas court did not address the question of whether lack of actual consent (apart from the statutory definition) could form the basis of a defense to an action to establish paternity."

In this case also the question of whether actual non-consent might be a defense was not before the court.

See Also

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