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Ledesma v. Gutierrez

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 5, 2014

ROBERTO LEDESMA, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
DANIELA ESTRADA GUTIERREZ and JUAN ANTONIO CISNEROS, Respondents-Appellees

Editorial Note:

This decision has been referenced in a "Decisions Without Published Opinions" table in the North Western Reporter.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Buena Vista County, Nancy L. Whittenburg, Judge. The putative father of a child who was born into a marriage challenges the denial of his petition to establish paternity.

Nicholas J. Brown of Dan Connell, P.C., Storm Lake, for appellant.

John M. Murray of Murray & Murray, P.L.C., Storm Lake, for appellees.

Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.

OPINION

TABOR, J.

At issue in this case is the paternity of A.C., who is now four years old. A.C.'s biological father, Roberto Ledesma, challenges the district court's denial of his petition to establish paternity, custody, visitation, and support, and to terminate the rights of A.C.'s legally established father, Juan Cisneros. Ledesma contends the district court misapplied Iowa Code sections 600B.41 and 600B.41A (2009).

Because the district court properly treated Ledesma's petition as an action to overcome paternity under section 600B.41A and followed the supreme court's interpretation of that provision in Callender v. Skiles, 591 N.W.2d 182 (Iowa 1999), we affirm.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

Daniela Estrada Gutierrez (Estrada) married Cisneros in February 2007.[1] During the marriage, Estrada had an intimate relationship with Ledesma. Ledesma was a family friend who emigrated from the same city in Mexico as Estrada and Cisneros. A.C. was conceived as a result of Estrada's extra-marital affair with Ledesma. Cisneros was not aware of the affair and believed A.C. was his child at the time of the birth in April 2009. Cisneros testified: " I saw him born. It's my child. . . . It was one of the biggest days of my life to see my child, to have the privilege to see a child born."

Ledesma went to the hospital the day after A.C. was born, believing the child was his, but did not say anything to Cisneros. During his occasional visits to Cisneros's apartment during A.C.'s first year, Ledesma became convinced the child resembled him.

Cisneros did not learn of A.C.'s true parentage until May 2010 when his wife took the child and left for Luverne, Minnesota, with Ledesma. Estrada was only with Ledesma for a week before she called her husband and asked him to come to Minnesota and bring her and A.C. back to Iowa. During the car ride home, Estrada revealed to Cisneros that she had a sexual relationship with Ledesma. Cisneros and Estrada decided to stay together and raise A.C. Cisneros testified they went to marriage counseling to help them " be stronger and to deal with this issue." Estrada and Cisneros had another child who was born in 2012.

On September 8, 2010, Ledesma filed his petition against Estrada seeking " Declaration of Paternity, Custodial Rights, Support and Visitation." Estrada answered, contending Ledesma waived his right to assert paternity because he " has known that the child has been raised by the Defendant and her husband since the child's birth, has allowed them to raise the child for two years and five months, and ...


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