TN Father Owes Child Support 18 Years After Divorce Even Though Mother Denied Paternity

Tennessee law case summary on retroactive award of child support in Tennessee divorce and family law from the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

State ex rel Kimbrough v. Hales – Tennessee Child Support Law – Retroactive Order to Birth

Patricia Kimbrough and Brian Hales were divorced in 1991 after less than a year of marriage.  Patricia was at the time pregnant.  Brian filed the divorce complaint, and alleged that Patricia was guilty of inappropriate marital conduct, specifically, by becoming pregnant by another.  The final decree in the divorce case stated that Brian was not the father of the expected child.

According to a later affidavit by Brian, the judge in the 1991 case looked at Patricia and asked her whether it was correct that she was pregnant by another.  According to the affidavit, Patricia said yes, “the audience went ooh ooh ooh” and Patricia held her head down.  According to the affidavit, the judge granted the divorce and told Brian “to have a good life.”

Eighteen years later, in 2010, the State of Tennessee sought to establish Brian’s paternity in order to collect retroactive child support.  The trial court ruled that the issue could not be litigated again, because of the doctrine of res judicata—the thing has already been adjudicated.

The State, however, produced a 2009 DNA Test Report which showed a 99.999998% probability that Brian was the child’s father. Continue reading