Tennessee’s highest court today ruled a man who’d been misled to believe he was a father is due more than 25-thousand dollars from his ex-wife.
The decision came in the case of Tina Hodge and Chadwick Craig, a couple who got married soon after high school because she was pregnant. The pair had been on again, off again, and she’d had sex several times with another man, but when asked at the time if she was sure the child was Craig’s, Hodge assured him it couldn’t be anyone else’s.
Sixteen years, a divorce, and a paternity test later the truth came out: he wasn’t the father. Craig took his ex-wife to court asking for a refund of the child support, medical costs and insurance premiums he’d paid since the divorce. A lower court had ruled that would be a retroactive change to the child support agreement and turned him down. But the state supreme court found that Hodge’s lie fell under the legal category of “intentional misrepresentation,” which means she can be required to pay damages.
While the opinion clearly states it’s settling a “matter of public policy,” the justices were careful to clarify that it does not set any precedent in cases where a couple never married or haven’t yet divorced.