Mother and Father (T.B.) had a baby in 2000.  Mother told T.B. he was the father, and he signed an affidavit acknowledging paternity.  The Family Support Division made an administrative determination that T.B. was the legal father, and ordered T.B. to pay child support for the child in February 2001.

Sometime prior to June 2010, to clear her conscience, Mother told T.B. that he was not the biological father.  Father filed a declaration of non-paternity on August 27, 2012.  He attached a DNA test report showing he was not the biological father of the child.  T.B. sought relief under Rule 74.06(d), asserting that Mother had perpetuated fraud against him by making false statements to him that he was the biological father when she knew he wasn’t.

The trial court concluded that T.B.’s right to bring an action for extrinsic fraud was foreclosed by the statutory time limit for him to contest paternity, which had run.

T.B. appealed.

Held: Affirmed.  The trial court properly found T.B.’s petition to be out of time, but for the wrong reason.  The trial court reasoned that T.B. had completed the DNA test results on June 15, 2010, although he did not pick them up until August 2012, shortly before he filed his petition.  Therefore, pursuant to § 516.280, RSMo, the statute of limitations for T.B. to act had run.

However, the appellate court determined that § 516.280 was inapplicable here because § 210.854.specifically sets forth the time in which a legal father may file a petition to set aside paternity (any time prior to December 31, 2011, or, after that date, within two years of the entry of the original judgment of paternity).  Because T.B. acknowledged his paternity in 2000, he only had until December 31, 2011, to file a petition to set aside that paternity judgment, which he did not do.  Section 210.854.1 does not authorize the time to be extended for any reason, including fraud. (Emphasis added).  The specific statute limiting a legal father’s time frame does not entitle T.B. to relief under Rule 74.06(d).

Source: Missouri Courts Bulletin April 2016