Preponderance of Evidence Standard

Under some circumstances use of the low preponderance of evidence standard may be a violation of constitutional rights. For example, if a state seeks to deprive natural parents of custody of their children, requiring only proof by a preponderance of evidence is a violation of the parents’ DUE PROCESS rights (Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 102 S. Ct. 1388, 71 L. Ed. 2d 599 [1982]). Freedom in matters of family life is a fundamental liberty interest, and the government cannot take it away with only a modest evidentiary standard. However, a court may use a preponderance of evidence standard when a mother seeks to establish that a certain man is the father of her child (Rivera v. Minnich, 483 U.S. 574, 107 S. Ct. 3001, 97 L. Ed. 2d 473 [1987]). Most states use the preponderance of evidence standard in these cases because they have an interest in ensuring that fathers support their children.

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