PARKER vs. PARKER
Supreme Court of Florida
RICHARD EDWARD PARKER,
MARGARET J. PARKER,
[February 1, 2007]
We have for review Parker v. Parker, 916 So. 2d 926 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005), in which the Fourth District Court of Appeal certified conflict with the First District Court of Appeal's decision in M.A.F. v. G.L.K., 573 So. 2d 862 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990).1 The conflict issue is whether a wife's misrepresentation of paternity in a dissolution of marriage proceeding is extrinsic or intrinsic fraud. This differentiation is significant because of the one-year limitation for filing a motion for relief from judgment under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.540(b). As explained below, we agree with the Fourth District that this type of misconduct is intrinsic fraud and, therefore, relief from any judgment based upon such fraud must be sought within one year. Consequently, we approve the Fourth District's decision in Parker finding that the petitioner's motion is time-barred, and we disapprove the First District's conflicting decision in M.A.F. Consistent with our resolution of this issue, we also reject the petitioner's alternative request that we reinstate his independent action against his former wife for damages based on this fraud.
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
The conflict issue arises from the following facts in Parker. Richard Parker, petitioner, and Margaret Parker, respondent, were married in 1996. Almost two years later, a child was born to the marriage. During the parties' dissolution of marriage proceeding in 2001, Margaret represented to the court as well as to Richard that he was the child's biological father. On December 7, 2001, a final judgment was entered dissolving the parties' marriage. This judgment incorporated a revised marital settlement agreement acknowledging Richard as the father of the couple's minor child and requiring him to pay child support.
In March 2003, Margaret filed a motion for contempt and a petition to enforce child support against Richard. In response, Richard had a DNA test conducted and discovered that he was not the child's biological father. In June 2003, Richard filed an independent civil action against Margaret claiming fraud and seeking compensatory damages for past and future child support obligations. The trial court dismissed Richard's civil action with prejudice. Richard appealed to the Fourth District, which, at Richard's request, treated the claim as a motion for relief from the dissolution of marriage final order pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.540(b).
Following a thorough discussion, the Fourth District ultimately held that â€