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Upon Petition of Hendrickson

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 5, 2013

Upon the Petition of KATHERINE ERIN HENDRICKSON, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning, COREY L. HENDRICKSON and DENNIS SCOTT VAUGHN Respondents-Appellees.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Story County, Dale E. Ruigh, Judge.

Katherine Hendrickson appeals from the denial of her motion for summary judgment and the grant of Dennis Vaughn's motion for summary judgment in her action to disestablish paternity of her child.

Nicole S. Facio of Newbrough Law Firm, L.L.P., Ames, for appellant.

Eric Borseth of Borseth Law Office, Altoona, for appellee Vaughn.

Heard by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and McDonald, JJ.

POTTERFIELD, J.

Katherine Hendrickson appeals from the denial of her motion for summary judgment and grant of Dennis Vaughn's motion for summary judgment in her action to disestablish paternity. She argues the district court improperly interpreted and applied Iowa Code section 600B.41A (2011). We affirm the district court's dismissal of Katherine's action.

I. Facts and Proceedings.

Katherine Campbell (n/k/a Katherine Hendrickson) gave birth to a child in 1997. A few months later, she began a relationship with Corey Hendrickson. Katherine and Corey married in 1999. In 2001, they signed a paternity affidavit pursuant to Iowa Code section 252A.3A (2001) establishing Corey as the child's father. Both knew when they signed the affidavit that Corey was not the child's father.

In February of 2012, when the child was fourteen years old, Katherine filed a petition to disestablish Corey's paternity—though the two were still married and planned to continue their relationship with each other and Corey's parental relationship with the child. Katherine petitioned to establish Dennis Vaughn as the child's father. She also sought payment from Dennis for "past support and maintenance for the minor child, permanent support, and medical support of the minor child." A DNA test showed Dennis was the child's biological father. A guardian ad litem (GAL) was appointed for the child. The report from the GAL stated both Katherine and Corey wished for Corey's paternity to be disestablished, and the child wished to have contact with Dennis. Katherine and Dennis both moved for summary judgment.

The district court granted Dennis's motion, finding Katherine could not meet her statutory burden to show the paternity affidavit was the result of fraud under Iowa Code section 600B.41A(3)(f)(2) (2011), concluding "[n]othing in the existing record can be reasonably construed as constituting [proof the affidavit was based on fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact]. Clearly, neither Ms. Hendrickson nor Mr. Hendrickson defrauded, tricked, pressured, or otherwise coerced the other into signing the paternity affidavit." Katherine appeals.

II. Analysis.

"Our review of paternity actions under chapter 600B is for errors at law. Likewise, our review of statutory interpretation is at law." Callender v. Skiles, 591 N.W.2d 182, 184 (Iowa 1999). We review a district court's grant of summary judgment for the correction of errors at law. Campbell v. Delbridge, 67 N.W.2d 108, 110 (Iowa 2003). Katherine argues the district court interpreted the fraud requirement in Iowa Code section 600B.41A too narrowly. The statute reads in relevant part as follows:

Paternity which is legally established may be overcome as provided in this section if subsequent blood or genetic testing indicates that the previously established father of a child is not the biological father of the child. Unless otherwise provided in this section, this section applies to the overcoming of paternity which has been established according to any of the means provided in section 252A.3, subsection 10, by operation of law when the established father and the mother of ...

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