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story.lead_photo.caption FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2010, file photo, Vice President Joe Biden, left, with his son Hunter, right, at the Duke Georgetown NCAA college basketball game in Washington. Since the early days of the United States, leading politicians have had to contend with awkward problems posed by their family members. Joe Biden is the latest prominent politician to navigate this tricky terrain. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

Acknowledging that a DNA test in an Arkansas paternity case is appropriate, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden has expressed a willingness to take one.

In a court document filed Monday in Independence County, one of the attorneys for Robert Hunter Biden said his client "admits and agrees that a paternity test is warranted."

Biden and the baby's mother, Lunden Alexis Roberts, "are currently discussing protocol and procedure for administering the paternity test, and [Biden] anticipates and intends that such agreement be done on or before November 1, 2019," the attorney, Bart W. Calhoun, wrote.

A hearing on the matter has been scheduled for Dec. 2 in Batesville before Circuit Judge Don McSpadden.

"[T]he issue of paternity should be resolved" before then, Calhoun added.

Roberts' attorney, Clint Lancaster, had previously said the Dec. 2 hearing may be unnecessary if the dispute over DNA testing is resolved ahead of time.

"We're making good progress towards resolution of the case," Lancaster said Tuesday. "We're not having to struggle to make things move forward like we were."

He praised Calhoun and another attorney representing Hunter Biden, former Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. "They've been very good to work with and good to get back with us and keep things moving," he said.

The admission by Biden that a paternity test was warranted is significant, Lancaster added.

When it comes to establishing paternity, DNA testing is "the gold standard," state Crime Laboratory Executive Director Kermit Channell said in an interview last month.

"It's very accurate, with greater than 99.999% probability of parentage. It doesn't get much better than that," he said.

Roberts' paternity suit, filed May 28, alleges that she and Biden "were in a relationship" and that "Baby Doe" was born in August 2018 "as a result of that relationship."

According to a July 1 article in The New Yorker, Biden has denied "having sexual relations" with Roberts.

Roberts, 28, is asking the court to establish that Biden, 49, is the baby's biological father and to order him to pay child support and provide health insurance for the toddler.

In September, Roberts asked the court to order Biden to provide a DNA sample. The Motion for Scientific (DNA) Testing alleged that Biden had "verbally admitted to the plaintiff that he is the father of her child."

Initially, Biden questioned whether the Arkansas court had jurisdiction in the case, arguing that he hadn't been properly served with the legal papers.

Earlier this month, Biden stopped raising that objection.

Arkansas attorneys for Biden have declined to comment on the case, referring questions to Biden's Chicago attorney, George Mesires; Mesires did not respond to a voice mail and email Tuesday requesting comment.

Dustin A. Duke of Little Rock, former managing attorney for the Center for Arkansas Legal Services, said DNA tests are generally dispositive.

"The way DNA testing is usually done, they'll swab or take a sampling of the DNA from the child and then from the putative father," he said. "If they don't match ... that's pretty much it. Case over."

When the DNA does match, there are financial consequences, Duke noted.

Under the state's child support guidelines, a father of one, with annual net income of $50,000 or above, is generally expected to contribute 15% of those earnings for child support.

Under the guidelines, known as Administrative Order Number 10, fathers are also supposed to help "provide for the child's health care needs."

In addition, both parents fill out an "affidavit of financial means," detailing their income, creditors, debts and monthly expenses.

The documents are "generally not available to the public," Duke said. However, the details are sometimes discussed in open court, he said.

Typically, spectators can witness those proceedings.

"Unless they ban the public from seeing the case, the public's free to observe, and whatever evidence comes in, the public's going to see," Duke said.

If the parties reach a settlement ahead of time, the information may not ever become public.

"The terms of the settlement themselves don't have to be made public knowledge," Duke said.

Biden, a graduate of Georgetown University and Yale Law School, is a member of the bar in Connecticut and the District of Columbia who has worked as an attorney, lobbyist and a private equity investment partner.

For a time, he served on Amtrak's board of directors.

Roberts, originally from Batesville, played on the Arkansas State University women's basketball team and graduated from the school in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies.

Afterward, she took classes at George Washington University. While studying in Washington, she met Biden, Lancaster said.

Roberts has declined requests for interviews. In June, her attorney said her motivation isn't political.

"She really does not want this to be a media spectacle. She does not want this to affect Joe Biden's campaign. She just wants this baby to get financial support from the baby's father," Lancaster told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Joe Biden is running for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential election.

In the July 1 The New Yorker article, Hunter Biden spoke at length about his past drug abuse, his 2017 divorce from his first wife, Kathleen Biden, and his overseas business ventures, including his tenure on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas company.

Hunter Biden was named to the board, while his father was serving as then-President Barack Obama's point man on Ukraine, despite having no business experience there.

In a July 25 phone call, President Donald Trump raised concerns with his Ukrainian counterpart, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, about both Bidens' dealings in Ukraine, saying it "sounds horrible" and asking Zelenskiy if he would "look into it."

Trump's phone call remarks prompted a whistleblower complaint, alleging that the president was soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election. Democrats in the House of Representatives subsequently opened an impeachment inquiry.

On Oct. 2, during a White House news conference with the president of Finland, Sauli Niinisto, Trump described both Bidens as "stone-cold crooked."

The Bidens have denied any wrongdoing.

Metro on 10/23/2019

Print Headline: Lawyer says Hunter Biden willing to take paternity DNA test

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