Paul M. v. Teresa M.

Citation818 S.W.2d 594,36 Ark.App. 116
Decision Date13 November 1991
Docket NumberNo. CA,CA
PartiesPAUL M., Appellant, v. TERESA M., Appellee. 90-527.
CourtCourt of Appeals of Arkansas

Denver L. Thornton, El Dorado, for appellant.

Teresa Wineland, El Dorado, for appellee.

ROGERS, Judge.

This is a paternity case. On October 16, 1989, appellee filed a complaint before the Chancery Court of Union County seeking a determination that appellant was the father of her two-year-old son, and an order requiring appellant to pay child support. Appellant answered the complaint and also filed a counterclaim in which he presented a tort claim against appellee for deceit, and also asserted the defenses of waiver, estoppel and laches. Based on these claims appellant requested judgment over against appellee for any sums awarded and directed by the court to be paid by him on behalf of the minor child.

Thereafter, appellee filed a motion to dismiss appellant's counterclaim stating that appellant had failed to allege facts upon which relief could be granted, pursuant to Ark.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). By order of September 26, 1990, the chancellor found that appellant was the father of the child in question. Consequently, appellant was ordered to pay $30 a week in child support, and appellee was granted judgment in the amount of $4,620 for accrued support. The chancellor also denied appellant's counterclaim. It is from this order that this appeal arises.

Appellant does not appeal from those portions of the order finding that he is the father of the child and requiring him to pay child support. As his only issue for reversal, appellant contends that the chancellor erred in denying his counterclaim against appellee. We hold that the chancellor properly dismissed appellant's counterclaim, and affirm.

In the counterclaim, appellant alleged that in her deposition, dated November 27, 1989, appellee testified that the child was born on September 30, 1987; that her filing of the paternity action was the first demand made against appellant for support; that appellant told her that he did not want to get married and did not want a child; that appellee testified that it was her election not to have an abortion, even though appellant would have paid for it; and that appellee testified that she wanted to have another child and agreed at the time to take full responsibility for the child when she refused to have an abortion. On appeal, appellant asserts that a valid cause of action was stated based on the alleged understanding of the parties whereby appellee agreed to assume financial responsibility for the child once she declined to terminate the pregnancy. This court, sitting en banc, certified this case to the supreme court pursuant to Rule 29(1)(c), 29(1)(o) and 29(4)(b) of the Rules of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals as one involving the construction of an Act of the General Assembly and rules of the court, as presenting a question in the law of torts, and as one involving an issue of significant public interest and a legal principle of major importance. However, certification was refused and the case was returned to this court for decision.

Inasmuch as appellant's theory of recovery is founded upon the alleged agreement of appellee to provide for the support of the child, we hold that appellant's argument must fail as such an agreement is not enforceable because it is not supported by consideration and is violative of public policy.

Consideration is any benefit conferred or agreed to be conferred upon a promisor to which she is not lawfully entitled, or any prejudice suffered or agreed to be suffered by a promisor other than such as she is lawfully bound to suffer. See Bass v. Service Supply Co., Inc., 25 Ark.App. 273, 757 S.W.2d 189 (1988). At common law, it is the mother who is bound to support a child born out of wedlock, not the putative father. Roque v. Frederick, 272 Ark. 392, 614 S.W.2d 667 (1981). Since appellee was already obliged to support the child, an agreement by her to undertake this self-same obligation consequently fails for want of consideration. See e.g. Davis v. Herrington, 53 Ark. 5, 13 S.W. 215 (1890).

The major purpose of Arkansas' filiation laws is to provide a process by which the putative father can be identified so that he may assume his equitable share of the responsibility to his child. Eaves v. Dover, 291 Ark. 545, 726 S.W.2d 276 (1987). Once paternity is established, the law with regard to child support proceedings subsequent to a divorce is made applicable to paternity cases as is provided under Ark.Code Ann. § 9-10-109(a)(1) (Supp.1991). See White v. Winston, 302 Ark. 345, 789 S.W.2d 459 (1990). In the context of divorce litigation, while parties may enter into contractual...

To continue reading

Request your trial
8 cases
  • Warren v. Kordsmeier, CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arkansas
    • February 19, 1997
    ...also Williams v. Williams, 253 Ark. 842, 489 S.W.2d 774 (1973). 48 Ark.App. at 115-16, 891 S.W.2d at 72. And in Paul M. v. Teresa M., 36 Ark.App. 116, 818 S.W.2d 594 (1991), a paternity case, we In the context of divorce litigation, while parties may enter into contractual agreements with r......
  • McGee v. McGee
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arkansas
    • September 19, 2007 bartered away permanently to the detriment of the child. Storey v. Ward, 258 Ark. 24, 523 S.W.2d 387 (1975); Paul M. v. Teresa M., 36 Ark.App. 116, 818 S.W.2d 594 (1991). The trial court always retains jurisdiction and authority over child support as a matter of public policy and, no mat......
  • Cotnam v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arkansas
    • November 13, 1991
  • Berryhill v. Rhodes
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • May 30, 2000
    ...of child support, other states that have considered the issue have found such agreements violate public policy. In Paul M. v. Teresa M., 818 S.W.2d 594 (Ark. Ct. App. 1991), the Arkansas appellate court rejected a father's argument in a paternity action that he was relieved of his support o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT