Tina Hodge v. Chad Craig
This is a fraud claim between ex-spouses. While the petitioner mother and the respondent were dating, the mother became pregnant, and she told the respondent that the child was his. Consequently, she and the respondent married, and the child was born during the marriage. Years later, the parties divorced, and the respondent paid child support to the mother. After several years, the respondent obtained a DNA test, which revealed that he is not the child's biological father. After he told the mother of the test results, she filed a petition requesting a court-ordered paternity test and modification of the parenting plan. The respondent filed a counter-petition, alleging negligent and/or intentional misrepresentation by the mother for falsely representing that he was the child's biological father. After a bench trial, the trial court awarded the respondent compensatory damages for past child support, medical expenses, and insurance premiums paid for the child, compensatory damages for emotional distress, and attorney fees. The mother now appeals. We conclude that under Tennessee statutes, the respondent cannot recover the past child support, medical expenses, and insurance premiums, as this would be a retroactive modification of a valid child support order. We find that the remaining damages for emotional distress cannot be awarded for the tort of fraud and misrepresentation, because such damages are non-pecuniary. Therefore, we reverse the decision of the trial court.