In Re Estate Of Burden

53 Cal.Rptr.3d 390 (2007)


D is the son of Gregory Burden and Sally Routt. When Gregory found out that Sally was pregnant, he did not deny fatherhood and proposed marriage. Sally refused Gregory's offer. Sally married Chris Agnew a few months before Dale's birth in October 1971. Dale's birth certificate names Chris as Dale's father and Chris supported Dale as if Dale were his own child. The parties do not dispute that Gregory is Dale's biological father. P is the daughter of Gregory and Linda Eve Burden. Sally did not inform D that Gregory was his biological father until September or October 1989, when D was 18 years old. After telling D that Gregory was his father, Sally took D to meet Gregory's mother, Helen; brothers, Kerry and Michael; and sisters, Joyce and Robin. D called Gregory and spoke to him for the first time. Gregory apologized, “for not being there … for being … an inactive father.” Gregory told D that he had a half-sister, Tara. Gregory did not want Tara to know that D was her half-brother and refused to allow D to come to California and meet her. D spoke briefly to Gregory in 1990 and again for the last time in 1995 after graduating from college to ask Gregory for help getting into Navy flight school. D developed a close relationship with Gregory's relatives. Everyone in the family knew that D was Gregory's son, except Tara. Tara was told of D's existence in 1991. Gregory's brother, sister, and mother all testified that Gregory did not deny being D's father. D sent Gregory greeting cards with pictures of his children, e-mails, Father’s Day cards, birth announcements, and a wedding invitation. Gregory did not respond to any of them. Gregory died, and the probate court held that D was entitled to an equal share of the estate with P. P appealed.