NASHVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a man who was misled into thinking he was a father and ordered the child’s mother to reimburse him more than $25,000 for child support, medical expenses and insurance premiums he had paid.
In a unanimous ruling published Monday, the court said Tennessee law allows a former spouse to pursue a fraud claim against a mother who intentionally misrepresented the identity of a child’s biological father.
The case stemmed from a Maury County lawsuit filed in 2008 by Chadwick Craig against his ex-wife, Tina Marie Hodge.
The couple had married in 1991 after, court documents said, Hodge told Craig she was pregnant and no else could be the father. They divorced in 2001 and Craig became the custodial parent in 2005.
Craig came to doubt he was the boy’s father and sued Hodge after a 2007 DNA test confirmed his suspicions.
The ruling was the first time the Supreme Court had found that a claim of paternity fraud can be made in Tennessee. It notes that five other states have recognized such a claim.
The decision overturned an appellate court decision that had said state law didn’t allow Craig to collect damages equal to support he had paid for the child.