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Man awarded damages in paternity fraud case

When a divorce occurs, the parties involved must decide how to divide their property and any other assets they share. There must also be some consideration made for the children that they have together. Denver parents often work through the court system or a mediator to determine what is the best living situation for their children after a divorce.

Paternity is usually presumed in divorce cases involving children, but when a father comes to have doubts later and then confirms his suspicions by DNA testing, divorce cases can take unexpected twists.

In November 2011, a man filed a case in the Tennessee Supreme Court for paternity fraud. He claimed that his ex-wife intentionally misled him into believing that the son he was raising while they were married was his biological child. He had also adopted a child that his spouse had had prior to their relationship.

After some time, they decided to divorce. In the divorce settlement, he was ordered to pay child support for both children. He complied with the court order and both adults went on to have second marriages. When the man's son asked to live with him, they went back to court to amend the order. Custody was transferred to the father and the mother was ordered to pay support.

Questions arose surrounding the differences in physical appearance between the father and son. The father then performed a paternity test and discovered that the boy was not his biological child. After the test was confirmed at the request of the mother, the father filed a civil case seeking damages from the mother for intentional deception.

Early this month, the Supreme Court in the man's home state upheld a lower court's ruling awarding the father $25,000 in damages for being ordered to pay child support and medical insurance

Whether such a case would win the day in Colorado is uncertain. State laws differ. But what this case offers is the assurance that courts are beginning to appreciate that paternity matters have many legal nuances. It also reinforces that when faced with issues concerning parental rights, seeking sound legal advice is the wise route to take.

Source: Verdict, "When Your Daddy Is Not Really Your Daddy: A Man Successfully Sues His Ex-Wife for Paternity Fraud Damages," Joanna L. Grossman, Oct. 16, 2012.

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