Paternity Fraud?

The Supreme Court of Iowa issued an interesting opinion last week regarding a putative fathers' ability to bring a paternity fraud action against a biological mother to obtain reimbursement for payments that were voluntarily made. The case before the Court involved two parties who were never married - Joseph O. Dier and Cassandra Jo Peters. Ms. Peters gave birth to a child in February of 2009. Although she knew Mr. Dier was not the biological father, she nonetheless told him that he was.  Based on Ms. Peters' representations, Mr. Dier provided financial support for the child. He also filed an application to establish custody of the minor child. Concerned she would lose custody of the child, Ms. Peters requested a paternity test. Paternity testing excluded Mr. Dier as the biological father. Mr. Dier subsequently filed a petition for reimbursement from Ms. Peters for monies "expended to the Defendant, monies for the minor child, and monies expended in custody litigation." Mr. Dier's petition was ultimately dismissed by the District Court. On appeal; however, the Supreme Court found that his petition should not have been dismissed and that Mr. Dier could pursue recovery of money provided to Ms. Peters or spent for the benefit of the minor child (assuming he was not under a court order to make the payments), but not attorneys' fees and costs incurred in the prior custody litigation.    

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