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What recourse, if any, should a man have when he is deceived into believing that he is the father of another man’s child? What if he marries the child’s mother? What if, when he divorces the child’s mother, he is ordered to pay child support? What if all this is discovered by the man only when the child is a teenager, and the revelation causes the child to break off ties with the man he had always called dad?

These were the facts before the Tennessee Supreme Court in a recent case, Hodge v. Craig, in which the court was asked to sort out the potential remedies for an intentional misrepresentation about paternity. In a question of first impression, the court unanimously recognized a cause of action for intentional misrepresentation of paternity, and upheld the trial court’s award of $25,000 in damages to compensate for the wrongful payment of child support and medical insurance following the couple’s divorce. With this ruling, Tennessee joins a handful of states that allow a man who is in this situation to seek some sort of civil damages against the woman who deceived him.



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